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Welcome to “WiSE” (Workshops in Speaking English) Tonight: “American” food Led by Brea Barthel What is “American” food? That’s hard to answer! America is a nation of immigrants Many different cooking styles Regional specialties

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Welcome to “WiSE”(Workshops in Speaking English)


“American” food

Led by Brea Barthel

What is “American” food?

That’s hard to answer!

  • America is a nation of immigrants

  • Many different cooking styles

  • Regional specialties

  • Eating habits change through time (low-carbohydrate; vegetarian; etc.)

Where do Americans eat meals?

  • Cooking at home

  • “Ordering in” (having food delivered)

  • Take-out (or getting food “to go”; picked up at a restaurant)

  • Fast food (eaten in the car or in the “fast-food joint”)

  • Eating out at a restaurant

Americans often eat “on the run”

Source: Marketing study cited in CNN, 10/4/05 (http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/04/news/funny/takeout/)

So what is “American” food?

Dinners for white, working-class Euro-American families often include:

  • Meat (often in large pieces)

  • Potatoes

  • A vegetable (often canned)

  • A salad of lettuce & tomato

  • Dessert (ice cream, pie, or cookies)

A “meat and potatoes” menu


  • French fries

  • Potato chips

  • Mashed

  • Home fries

  • Hash browns

  • Scalloped

  • Baked

  • And more!




  • Americans 2-19 years old receive 40 percent of their calories from fat and added sugar.

  • French fries would be the most common vegetable eaten…

  • But are potatoes a vegetable?

  • Yes, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

  • The USDA proclaimed French fries a vegetable in 2004!

    Sources: Jan 04 Journal of the American Dietetic Association (15-24 month-olds); USA Today 6/15/04 (USDA); http://vitamindiscount.com/newsroom/pressreleases/pr20030102.cfm(2-19)

So how do you order in an American restaurant?

  • That depends on the type of restaurant

  • Let’s assume you are going out to a nice sit-down restaurant

  • Your dinner may have a few “courses”

  • Here are some things to consider…

“Courses” of a dinner

  • Appetizer: small “nibbles” to eat while you wait for the main meal

  • Soup

  • Salad

  • “Entrée” (main dish, usually meat or fish)

  • “Side dishes” with the entree (potatoes, vegetables)

  • Dessert

But first: cost considerations

  • Sometimes the entrée price includes salad and/or side dishes

  • Sometimes other items are paid for separately (or “a la carte”)

  • Drinks are usually “extra”

  • For sit-down meals, you should leave a tip of 15% of the total price

Lots of choices!

  • Soup? Cup or bowl?

  • Entrée? How prepared? (rare, medium, or well-done; baked or broiled)

  • Salad? Which “salad dressing”? (French, Italian, Russian, Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard, or others)

  • Potatoes? What kind? (French fries, baked, mashed)

  • Baked potato? With or without “sour cream”?

  • Coffee? Regular or decaf? Black, cream, or sugar?

  • Pie? Plain or “a la mode” (with ice cream)?


In a fancy restaurant:

  • “I’d like the London Broil [a cut of beef]with a baked potato, no sour creamand Italian dressing for the salad.”

    Or, the more likely meal out:

  • “Give me a Whopper with medium fries & a Coke.”

Fancy restaurants have lots of dishes and utensils!

  • Salad fork

  • Dinner fork

  • Dinner plate

  • Knife

  • Soup spoon

  • Teaspoon

  • Salad plate

  • Soup bowl

  • Cup & saucer

  • [“Bread & Butter” plate and glass not shown]

Related terms

  • Banquet: fanciest type of sit-down meal

  • Sit-down dinner: Food is served ahead of time on the plate, and delivered to your table

  • Buffet: Food is in bowls on a side table, and you help yourself

  • Family Style: Food is in bowls that you “pass around,” usually clockwise

  • Picnic: Outdoor informal meal, often with hot dogs or hamburgers

  • “Pot Luck”: a buffet meal where the guests each bring a “dish” to share

Dining “etiquette” (expected behavior)

  • Place your napkin on your lap before you start to eat; put it on the table when you’re done.

  • Keep your mouth closed when you chew

  • Swallow before you speak

  • Usually keep your fork in the left hand to cut, but the right hand to eat

  • The knife usually rests across the top of your plate after the first time you use it.

  • Always say thank you to your host

  • Always tip your waiter after a sit-down meal

It’s time for you to talk!

  • Practice ordering a meal at Friendly’s restaurant.


  • What are meals like in your country?

  • Have you eaten at an American’s house?

  • Have you eaten in an American-style restaurant?

  • Or, talk about anything!

  • Login