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Gourmet’s Pick

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a tour of some top restaurants made by the most discerning palates in Elche.

English Articles: A / An / The

April 13, 2010 1 comment

English has two articles: the and a/an. The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a/an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. We call the the definite article and a/an the indefinite article.

For example, if I say, “Let’s read the book,” I mean a specific book. If I say, “Let’s read a book,” I mean any book rather than a specific book.

Let’s look at each kind of article a little more closely.

Indefinite Articles: a and an

“A” and “an” signal that the noun modified is indefinite, referring to any member of a group. For example:

  • “My daughter really wants a dog for Christmas.” This refers to any dog. We don’t know which dog because we haven’t found the dog yet.

Remember, too, that in English, the indefinite articles are used to indicate membership in a group:

  • I am a teacher. (I am a member of a large group known as teachers.)
  • Brian is an Irishman. (Brian is a member of the people known as Irish.)
  • Seiko is a practicing Buddhist. (Seiko is a member of the group of people known as Buddhists.)

Remember, using a or an depends on the sound that begins the next word. So…

  • a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy; a car; a bike; a zoo; a dog
  • an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant; an egg; an apple; an idiot; an orphan
  • a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a user; a university

Count and Uncount Nouns

The can be used with uncount nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely.

  • “I love to sail over the water” (some specific body of water) or “I love to sail over water” (any water).

A/an can be used only with count nouns.

  • “I need a bottle of water.”

Definite Article: the

The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example:

“The dog that bit me ran away.” Here, we’re talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me.

It is also used before superlatives He is the fastest man ever, with national groups  The English love tea, with inventions and species of animal, e.g. the computer, the polar bear, when there is only one of something, e.g. the Moon.

Geographical use of the

There are some specific rules for using the with geographical nouns.

Do not use the before:

  • names of most countries/territories: Italy, Mexico, Bolivia; however, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States
  • names of cities, towns, or states: Seoul, Manitoba, Miami
  • names of streets: Washington Blvd., Main St.
  • names of lakes and bays: Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
  • names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fuji except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn
  • names of continents (Asia, Europe)
  • names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands

Do use the before:

  • names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Nile, the Pacific
  • points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole
  • geographical areas: the Middle East, the West
  • deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula

Omission of Articles

Some common types of nouns that don’t take an article are:

  • Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian
  • Names of sports: volleyball, hockey, baseball
  • Names of academic subjects: mathematics, biology, history, computer science

Check your articles by completing these tests:

Articles

A, an or the

Definite Article or Zero Article- Geography

Countable and Uncountable Practice

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Easter Homework

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Easter owes its name to a pagan deity Eostre also known as Holy week, most  Easter traditions and vocabulary come from the Christian customs as you can see in this Powerpoint.

Even if chocolate has won the popularity battle, there are some traditional foods related to this time of year.

Good Friday

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday. A Hot Cross Bun is rich, spiced tea cake.

Easter Day

Boiled eggs are traditionally served at breakfast.

Roast lamb, which is the main dish at Jewish Passover, is the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day.

Simmel cake is baked for tea.

The Simnel cake is a fruit cake with a flat layer of marzipan (sugar almond paste) on top and decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Christ.
Click here for a recipe

Easter Biscuits

Easter Biscuits are sometimes called “Cakes”, and are eaten on Easter Sunday. They contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon rind.

After that brief introduction to the typical Easter food here is your Easter homework:

Write a letter (200 words approx) to a foreign friend inviting her/him to spend Easter with you  in Spain. You have to convince your friend this is the best time to visit you not only for the Easter celebrations but also for the nice special food that can be tasted at this time. Describe some of this special food using the vocabulary learnt in this unit.

Spanish cuisine

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Even though we disseminate mostly the culture of the English-speaking world in this blog we could not talk about food and not mention the wonders of our cuisine.

Chefs

The restaurant that has been elected  the top restaurant in the world for the last 5 years is the Spanish restaurant “El Bulli” run by Ferrán Adriá who has  brought a new dimension to cooking. Here you can watch him demonstrating one of his most famous techniques ““, a translator does a consecutive translation of his words. I dare you to beat her.

He has many followers and a few detractors who don´t appreciate his innovative style. Check this funny sketch from Muchachada Nui

However, probably the most popular Spanish chef is Karlos Arguiñano with his down-to-earth approach and his easy TV manner. There is a terrible mistake in his English entry of Wikipedia which only confirms we must take things we read on the Internet with  a pinch of salt. As Mark Twain said when reading his obituary in the newspaper “News of my death has been greatly exaggerated”. He explains in Spanish in this interview his feelings about cooking.

Categories: 8. Food for thought

Restaurant Reviews

March 25, 2010 2 comments

Writing restaurant reviews can be a fun and challenging way to express your love of quality cuisine. To write a restaurant review, you must have a keen eye for detail, sound knowledge of food and an understanding of restaurant esthetics.

What should be the style of the review?
It should be in a chatty style to make it fun to read and not in a boring formal style. When you write a restaurant review be as detailed as you can; for example, don’t just write the staff was friendly. Talk about how the staff was friendly. Did they smile and greet you? Did they go out of their way to meet your requests?

Write your review in chronological order, that includes from the moment you enter the restaurant to when you pay the bill and leave. Describe the restaurant in the present tense and focus on what makes the restaurant so unique. Make sure you provide a recommendation.

There are certain areas that need to be mentioned in a restaurant review. The following are some suggestions as to what should be covered:

0. Basics

Include name of the restaurant, location, a photo and the type of restaurant it is, What is best for…good food, special occasion, family-friendly, quick bite, romantic date?

1. Write about the atmosphere of the restaurant.

Ask yourself some questions. For example, What does the restaurant look like? Is the restaurant casual or formal? What type of décor does it have? Is the restaurant clean? Does the restaurant have restrooms? These types of questions will help the reader to begin to form a picture in their mind as to what the restaurant is like.

2. Talk about the restaurant menu.

What type of food do they serve? Do they serve Mexican, Italian or all American food? Share some of the different foods they have along with the cost. Let the reader know where the food ranges in as far as prices. Is it inexpensive, average or expensive in cost?

3. Share what your experience was like with the service.

Were the employees friendly? Was the service quick and efficient? Did they rush you? Were the employees helpful in sharing how the food is prepared and served?

4. Have information on what makes the restaurant special and unique.

Every restaurant should have something that stands out about them. It could be the salsa they make at your table, the way the employees are dressed or the funky style of menus they provide.

5. You could also include information about the history of the restaurant.

When did it first open? Is the restaurant a franchise or is it individually owned? Who owns the restaurant? This will give the reader a little background information about the restaurants history.

6. Overall/Conclusion

How was the experience? Would you ever go back? Why or why not? Would you recommend this restaurant to anyone? What type of person would enjoy this restaurant?

By writing about the atmosphere, food, cost, service, history and the uniqueness of the restaurant you are doing an excellent job in providing a snapshot as to what the restaurant is like. We’re looking for new places to enjoy food so now, the tables are turned on you, have a look at these samples and (using the food descriptors seen in class) try and give us a review about a restaurant you’ve recently been to but, please, as  Anton Ego says in his famous speech at the famous Disney movie Ratatouille, remember not to be too harsh.

Categories: 8. Food for thought

Famous Cooks Who Broke the Mould

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Who taught you to cook first? your mother, sisters, friends or neighbours?

Well, I have to admit that trial and error was my first teacher since I’m very stubborn and too self-sufficient 😉 I’ve also learned a lot from watching cooking shows on TV. So, who taught me to cook?  I guess my Mom, recipe books on the Internet and, of course, cooking shows.

These programs would present the preparation of food, in a kitchen on a studio set. The host of the show, usually a celebrity chef, prepares one or more dishes over the course of the show, taking the viewing audience through the food’s preparation showing all intermediate stages of cooking.

While rarely achieving top ratings, cooking shows have been a popular staple of daytime TV programming since the earliest days of television. Many of the most popular cooking shows have had flamboyant hosts whose unique personalities have made them into celebrities, let’s take, for example, La Cocina de Karlos Arguiñano here in Spain. But, what about abroad? They also have excellent cooks who broke the mould and taught full generations how to cook. Let me introduce some of them:

Cooks in the US

Julia Child (August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author, and  TV personality. She introduced French Cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her cookbooks, beginning in 1961 with Mastering the Art of French Cooking , and her television programs, notably, The French Chef which premiered in 1963. Click here to watch part of a chapter explaining how to make an omelette.

You can learn more about her life watching this feel good comedy Julie and Julia starred by the Golden-Globe awarded Meryl Streep. The film depicts events in the life of chef Julia Child in the early years in her culinary career, contrasting her life with Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook during a single year, a challenge she described on her popular blog that would make her a published author. Watch the trailer of the film here.

Cooks in the UK

Jamie Oliver, MBE (born 27 May 1975), sometimes known as The Naked Chef, is an English chef and media personality well known for his growing list of food-focused television shows (watch his recipe for his famous tasty prawns on the BBQ), his more recent roles in campaigning against the use of processed foods in national schools, and his campaign to change unhealthy diets and poor cooking habits for the better across the UK.

With the obesity epidemic growing globally, Oliver is using his notoriety to bring attention to the changes Englanders and now Americans need to make in their lifestyles and diet. Campaigns such as School Dinners, Ministry of Food and Food Revolution USA combine Oliver’s culinary tools, cookbooks and television with more standard activism and community organizing to create change on both the individual and governmental level.

Watch Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech to know more about his project; you can even add subtitles in English to help you with his interesting ‘mockney’ accent. An interesting quote from the video is Jamie Oliver’s Wish: “I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Delia Smith, CBE (born 18 June 1941) has shown the British public how to cook for more than 25 years and is one of the leading modern authorities on good basic cooking.

Delia’s simple style of teaching has changed attitudes to cookery in the UK. Helped by a team of assistants, she prides herself on testing her recipes over and over again to make them easy to follow, simple and achievable. Anyone who follows a Delia recipe can do so with confidence, and her ability to increase the sales of ingredients by a simple mention is legendary. Have a look at her preparation of a French Onion Soup.

Nigella Lawson (born 6 january 1960) has brought glamour to British kitchens . Nigella´s approach to cooking is simple and stress free. She is the nations´s domestic goddess. She has a laid back style with easy and fun recipes which make cooking a really enjoyable past time.

She involves the whole family in her cooking, some of her recipes that have been passed on by relatives, neighbours or even people she has met on public transport. She has had an adventurous life and in, this interview, she explains why she cooks and how it makes her feel. Want to see one of her recipes, what about ricotta hotcakes or a great breakfast to share with friends?

We hope you get some inspiration from this post and get on with cooking!

Categories: 8. Food for thought