This episode's vocabulary
- Haggis (noun) - a dish from Scotland consisting of different sheep's organs cut up with onions and spices and cooked inside a sheep's stomach.
- Unappetizing (adj.) - not attractive or pleasant.
- To ferment (verb) - if food or drink ferments or if you ferment it, it goes through a chemical change because of the action of yeast or bacteria, which may cause it to produce bubbles or heat, or turn sugars in it into alcohol.
- Spread (noun) - a meal, especially one for a special occasion with a lot of different dishes arranged on a table.
- Host (noun) - someone who has guests.
- Hygienic (adj.) - clean, especially in order to prevent disease.
- Table manners (plural noun) - the way you eat your food, or the socially acceptable way to eat your food, especially when eating a meal with others.
- Dietary (noun) - relating to your diet.
- Slaughterhouse (noun) - a place where animals are killed for their meat.
- Kosher (noun) - (of food or places where food is sold, etc.) prepared or kept in conditions that follow the rules of Jewish law.
- Microbiome (noun) - the microorganisms (= living things too small to be seen) that exist in a particular environment or in the human body.
- Springboard (noun) - something that provides you either with the opportunity to follow a particular plan of action, or the encouragement that is needed to make it successful.
Questions and Answers
M: Rory, is there any food in your country eaten at special times or special occasions?
R: You mean aside from birthdays? Like everywhere else. I suppose we always have haggis on Burn's night. And that's a celebration of our national poet who wrote a lot about our national dish, actually, which is what haggis actually is. Lots of people have turkey at Christmas. But I think that's actually an artifact from American culture that's been imported. Other than that, I'm not quite sure.
M: What are the differences between special food in your country and other countries?
R: Well, it's funny because there seems to be a thing about unusual foods in northern European countries in particular. So in Scotland, it's haggis, which is made from sheep organs. But this fits in with a general trend of foods, which are typically seen as unappetizing, like fermented shark and fermented fish in Nordic countries. So in some ways, this is a difference. And in other ways, it's something that we actually share with others. So these things are actually quite difficult to separate.
M: Why are some people willing to spend a lot of money on meals on special days?
R: As with many other things, I think social status plays a role. You want to put on a good spread for guests to show that you can provide, so they aren't left feeling hungry, which is a sign that you're a bad host, and no one wants that. Beyond that, I think there might be an idea in their heads that this is a strong connection to culture and tradition, which makes sense, since some people would literally die for their culture. So splashing out to bid on a meal doesn't seem so bad by comparison, does it?
M: So you think it's mostly depends on the culture?
R: I would say so, yes.
R: Is it important to have a meal together with your family?
R: Maybe not all the time. But at least sometimes, assuming that you have a reasonably well balanced family. It's a chance to share good news, get advice and enjoy being with the people you love. I suppose if you're a very young person, you also don't get much of a choice in the matter, either, do you?
M: And what can we do to encourage people to have meals together with their family?
R: Well, just suggesting it would be an idea. I don't know what you mean by we, if you mean the government, then I suppose the government could show that in adverts, for example, and show how it's beneficial. But if you talk about individuals, then it's just a case of suggesting it and being willing to support it.
M: Do you think it's good to communicate when eating with your family to talk about politics?
R: Well, possibly not when you're in the middle of eating? I think talking with your mouth full is a bit disrespectful. And also, it's not very hygienic. But if you mean speaking at the time you're having the meal, then I suppose it should be fine. Assuming the topic isn't too off putting. Another thing to consider would be how you're communicating and who you're communicating with. Generally, sitting on your phone at the dinner table isn't considered particularly good table manners, for example.
M: Do people care about where products are from?
R: I think that will depend on individual dietary and moral preferences, don't you? I mean, if you're a vegan, you might want to know that the food at the table didn't come from a slaughterhouse. Similarly, you might only prefer ethically sourced foods. Religious people might also have various requirements. So like Jews and eating kosher, none of this is terribly common in my family, but it is something to keep in mind, especially these days.
M: Do you think in the future people will be more concerned about where products come from?
R: I don't know. If I were to guess then I would say yes, probably because there's this increasing awareness, or at least there seems to be, but that's just my impression.
M: Are people fully responsible for what they eat?
R: Assuming they aren't children, or people with a disability, I think most people are reasonably in control of their of choice of food, though maybe some more than others. Although actually, now I think about it, I've recently read that everybody has their own microbiome in their gut, and that can influence what people eat. So maybe none of us are really in control and it's the bacteria doing all the thinking.
M: Is it important for people to learn about foreign foods?
R: That's a good question. And I think the answer will depend a great deal on how often you mix with people of other cultures or encounter new food. So if it's very often then it's probably important to know at least a little bit, about the ingredients and recipes and cultural aspects behind it. If it's just a fleeting encounter, it's really your choice. Oh, it could be a springboard to find out more about something like that.
M: Thank you Rory, for your answers! They were delicious!
M: So, food, special occasions, cakes and what, products. Yeah.
M: That's it.
R: That's all. We're done here.
M: When the examiner asks you questions about special time, special occasions and food in your country. You go like, well, we have celebrations we have our national dishes. And then you are supposed to name your national dishes. Rory named haggis, which is a crazy thing to eat. But it's actually quite good. I like it. And you also said turkey at Christmas. So lot's of people have turkey at Christmas, imported Turkey from the States.
R: Well, I think the turkeys are raised in Scotland. But the idea that people have turkey at Christmas is probably from America. I think, if any Americans want to correct me on that, then they can, but I'm pretty sure it's copied from America.
M: Yeah, but again, like birthdays, right. So is there any food in your country eaten at special occasions? All right. Yeah. On special occasions. So like birthday cakes, national dishes, traditional food. Yep. And then when you describe this food, you can say it's made from blah, blah, blah. And Rory said that okay, it's made from sheep organs. Yeah. Which is pretty disgusting. So it's made from something.
R: If it's disgusting. It might be called unappetizing which is connected to the subject of food.
M: Yeah. Yeah. And if you know what haggis is made from, it is unappetizing. It's kind of made of the insides of a freaking ship. Ma'am, as sheep, you know, this white, furry thing on advertising. Yep. And then Rory, you said something insane. You said like, fermented shark.
M: What is that?
R: Well, to be honest with you, fermenting... Now. Oh, fermenting. Fermenting is like the process of encouraging bacteria to grow on something so it partially decomposes and it's supposed to enhance the taste.
M: That's unappetising.
R: Well, now, that's a really really big simplification of it. If you want to know more about fermenting, then really, you should look it up but it's to do with bacteria basically. And yes, so in Iceland, I think they bury sharks in the ground and leave them there and then they dig them up six months later and eat them.
M: Are you joking?
R: No, in Sweden, they do the same thing with fish. I think it's called something like... But I never had that. I've seen it and I've smelt it. Well, no, I think it's unappetizing. But if people want to eat that then that is their choice.
M: Okay. Yeah, and then you can say that okay, this dish fits in with a general trend of foods, which are unappetising so you describe something crazy. Okay, people eat dog, fermented shark that was kept for six months under ground.
R: You can eat scorpion.
M: And this fits in with a general trend of foods which are unappetizing, or maybe it's tasty for some people. And then when we talk about people spending money on meals. So meals, breakfast, dinner, lunch, their meals, and there is a good synonym when we spend a lot of money we say we splash out on something.
M: Rory give us examples.
R: Splash out on a meal. Yesterday I went to the shop and they had lots of offers on, even so it's still quite expensive but I still splashed out because the food was nice. So I spent lots of money.
M: Can you splash out on shoes? In my situation?
R: I try and stop you.
M: No, there is no stopping me. Don't stop me. Don't stop me. yes, dear listener, so you are out premium listener, that's why pretty much most of what I'm making from the premium goes to shows and food, and food. The other half goes to food. Alright, when people spend, when people splash out on meals, on special occasions, it might be connected with a social statues of people, yeah?
M: Yeah, that was the other thing I was going to say. If we ever talk about how much money people spend on something, or people spending money in general, then you could almost always connect it back to social status. So that's just where you are in the hierarchy of people, or where you think you are. So some people spend lots of money in order for people to make them think that they're amazing people. And so it improves their social status, allegedly.
M: Yeah. So if we imagine that our podcast is like 80 million listens, we're kind of like super famous like Kardashians all over the world. And Rory is now this filthy rich Scottish guy. And he owns a Castle in Scotland with ghosts. He owns all the ghosts. And it's his birthday party. And because of his social status, he just has to splash out on a huge meal for his 500 guests. In this castle of his. Rory, do you like the story? And then he wants to put on a good spread for guests.
R: Yes. So that's another thing that we need to talk about. To put on a good spread is just to have lots of things at your meal and make sure there's enough for everybody, and it's impressive.
M: Yeah, people might have this idea in their heads, that they need to spend a lot of money and to show that they are a good host. So host like Rory is hosting a party. So he is the, what, the boss of the party. And then there might be a strong connection to culture and tradition. Just you have to spend a lot of money on meals for your birthday, or during New Year's celebrations. For example, Roy, would you like to have a castle in Scotland? With ghosts?
R: No, it's too much.
M: No? Come on.
R: I just want a small house.
M: Come on. What about a castle with ghosts? We can have this like you know, ghost podcast. IELTS Speaking for Success with ghosts.
R: You, no, you don't understand. In Scotland you can walk about 100 meters in any direction and you will bump into a castle. It's not that difficult to find them.
M: Oh, really?
R: Yeah, they're everywhere. There's one like literally, well, not literally, sorry. There's one almost next to my house. Like this is crazy. We don't need to buy any of them. There are there. We can go to them.
M: Sweet. Do they have ghosts in them?
R: I don't know.
M: Are the haunted? Haunted, you know, a haunted house.
R: They're haunting this conversation. Can we talk about the vocabulary?
M: Right, right. Yes, yes. Yes, meals, meals. So also this question was in the essay about people having meals together with their families. Hmm.
R: And that's all.
M: Yeah, yeah, that's all. We can say that it's a chance to share good news. It's a chance, where having meals together is a chance to share news, to get advice, to give advice. Yeah, and pretty much that's it. But the essay topic was about many people do not have meals together with their families anymore. So what could be done about it? Something like this.
R: Well, that's a good point. Like, well, I even said that in my answer. I was like, assuming that's a good thing. I don't know if it is or not. Maybe having smaller meals might be better. It maybe saves money. Who knows?
M: Yeah, but in the IELTS essay it was given a statement. Like it is already bad. People don't eat together. So like, what can be done about that? Then communicating when eating? Rory, do you have like a proverb that you'd better keep your mouth shut while you're eating or something like this? Because in Russian, we do have.
R: Well, for most people, it's like, it's just rude. You just don't talk when you're eating.
M: What can parents tell children about not eating with a mouth full?
R: They just have to tell them don't do that. It's disrespectful. You swallow your food and then you talk to the person.
M: No, that's boring, because in Russian, we have a nice saying about that.
R: It doesn't sound very nice to me.
M: No, no, but in Russian it is. It does sound nice. It kind of, we say, when I eat, I'm blind and deaf.
R: That's good.
M: But it has a nice rhyme. It rhymes. That's why like, it's kind of, it's catchy. So it is cute. Alright. And yeah, so I think talking with your mouth full. So this is the expression. To talk with your mouth full.
R: Yeah, don't talk with your mouth full.
M: It's not hygienic. Hygienic about like clean things. And it's a bit disrespectful.
R: That's maybe not a bit disrespectful. It's probably incredibly disrespectful, actually. Do you imagine like you covered someone in your half digested food? That's pretty rude.
M: Yes, yeah. And then you said also, it's too off-putting.
M: When somebody talks with their mouth full.
R: Well, off-putting, first of all, it's a phrasal verb. Hey, hey. And second of all, well, a topic would be off putting if it was like a disgusting subject to talk about at dinnertime. So usually people don't talk about, I don't know, medical procedures at the dinner table.
M: Oh, yeah, God. So talking with your mouth full could be considered bad table manners. So it's just not good table manners.
R: Although table manners is quite a good collocation to have, I suppose. Because it's how you behave when you're sitting at the table with other people.
M: True. When you talked about products, you mentioned that it depends on individual dietary and moral preferences. So our dietary preferences, it's about our diet. Our diet is not like I'm on a diet, but it's just everything I eat. So all the food I eat is my diet. So, where products are from? Well, it depends on my dietary preferences. This is a nice one. And then Rory gives an example. If you are a vegan, or if you are vegan.
R: Yeah. So vegan people don't eat anything from, well, they don't eat meat, and they don't eat any animal products whatsoever.
M: And a slaughter house is a house when they kill animals and turns them into meat, yeah?
R: Yes. So if you're a vegan, then you probably don't want anything from there. In fact, you definitely don't want anything from there.
M: And then it's a good opportunity to talk about religious people, for example, eating kosher. You say kosher, yeah?
R: Yeah, so if you're Jewish, that it's kosher. If you're Muslim, it's halal. The period for Christians is called Lent. At least it's usually called that.
M: The lent, yeah.
R: And so like, I had to explain to small children why that happened to everything. And so I have a good understanding of why that happens. But I don't know what the name for Christian dietary requirements is. But even if you didn't, then you could just say like, I don't know what the name for Christian dietary requirement is. And if you could say that, then that's a band nine collocation there.
M: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And then you can speak about being in control of our choice of food. So certain people are in control of their choice of food. They're responsible for what they eat. And Rory told us about microbiome. Did you say microbiome?
R: Microbiome, yeah. I love a microbiome. Microbiome is just the... It's... Okay. Again, if you're a doctor, I'm sorry. But I'm gonna simplify. So a microbiome is the name for all of the bacteria that live inside of you. And here I was talking about your gut in particular. So as it turns out, the bacteria inside your intestines and your guts have an influence on what your dietary preferences are. And it's very interesting, because most people think, oh, you should be able to just control what you eat. But if your bacteria are sending certain chemicals to your brain, then that can... Well, that can affect or influence the messaging and your behavior.
M: Yeah, and this is fascinating. And yeah, according to like recent research, and they are researching this bacteria now in the gut, and it's amazing. And they've published already some findings, which are like, wow, and this is something really new. How bacteria in our gut influences our behavior and our like, levels of happiness and what we eat. It's just amazing, you guys.
R: It is. It's the future of dieting.
M: Oh, yeah, possibly. Possibly. Yeah, the future of psychology. The bacteria in your gut? Are they depressed, are they happy? What should you eat, what should you feed your bacteria with? McDonald's. We want McDonald's.
R: I felt happier when I had McDonald's. I don't know if that was the microbiome, though.
M: Foreign foods, you can talk about different ingredients recipes, again, cultural aspects. Right? And...
R: And that's all.
M: That's all. Yeah. And Rory, you've used the two nice words here. You said it's a fleeting encounter and then you said a springboard.
R: Yes, so a fleeting encounter is like a meeting that lasts for just a couple of seconds. So maybe you've never had Japanese food before and you go out and you have like sushi one time, and then you never do again. That's a fleeting encounter. Or maybe you have like one sushi roll and you're like, I don't like this, I'm going to have something else. A springboard is something that you use to launch into something. So for example, asking somebody what their hobbies are is a springboard into a bigger conversation to see if you share things, for example.
M: Yes, beautiful. Right, dear listener, now you know that you do have certain bacteria in your gut, which influence you, your behavior and your dietary preferences. Okay? And we've given you some nice words and grammar structures.
R: Some food for thought.
M: Some food for thought. Some tasty food for thought. Yes. Thank you very much for listening! Make sure you read the script. And take care! We'll hear you and see you in the next episode!
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