Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vocab game - Food collocations (mainly British) quiz

This game has twelve quizzes related to the food we eat in Britain.
Most natives of Britain will recognise these easily, but I have to confess it will be difficult for foreign learners. There are some links at the bottom where you can get some information, perhaps before you start. The first three are aimed at learners and will give you some idea of some of the more traditional dishes. The award-winning Woodlands Junior School website is always a good place to start when looking for information about British customs.
The section on foreign origins has some Indian dishes. After the links there is a video clip parodying British drunken visits to Indian restaurants. In fact if you watch it before doing the quiz, it will help you with a couple of questions.
The quizzes mostly consist of collocations, words that often go together, but the UK / US one is about different British and American names for the same things.
  • Simply does it - homely food
  • Various meat dishes
  • Mainly condiments
  • Puddings (desserts)
  • Baking
  • Origins - dishes etc with place names
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Foreign origins - but now totally familiar
  • Breakfast
  • Christmas
  • UK / US
  • Bits and bobs

Click on a card in one column, then find its matching card in the other column and click on that.




British breakfast


'Going for an English'

When Indian restaurants first arrived in Britain, they were one of the few places you could eat late at night after the pubs had closed, and also where you could keep on drinking. So there began a sort of tradition of 'going for an Indian' after the pub. Unfortunately for the poor waiters, their customers were often quite drunk, and occasionally rather badly behaved.
It was also thought to be a sign of 'manliness' to eat the hottest food on the menu, which usually meant a Vindaloo. Later on tandoori restaurants arrived, and we were introduced to new types of Indian food, and Chicken Tikka masala, a tandoori dish, was named by a previous prime minister as 'Britain's national dish'. Balti is another popular food style with traditions from the subcontinent, with Pakistani roots, but apparently invented in the British city of Birmingham by Pakistani restaurateurs there. Many 'Indian' restaurants are in fact run by Pakistanis or Bangla-Deshis
The TV show Goodness Gracious Me was written and performed by four British Asians. In Britain - Asian is a term for Indians, Pakistanis, Bangla-Deshis and Sri Lankans, used by whites and Asians alike. Other people from Asia are called by their nationality, for example Chinese. The title of the show is a dig at the habit of having British actors playing stereotypical Indian characters. In the 1960 film - The Millionairess - Peter Sellers played an Indian doctor alongside Sofia Loren, and together they sang the song 'Goodness Gracious Me' (link below)
In this sketch, they parody the British habit of going for an Indian - they 'go for an English' in Bombay. They behave badly, mispronounce the waiter's name and the food names, are a bit condescending to him, use bad language, and the conversation gets a bit rude. Apart from the jokes, there are some good examples of informal colloquial language.
I've transcribed some of the script to help you, and added some notes at the end.
Man 1: Bombay's the restaurant capital of India, so how come we always end up here.
Sanjeev: Because that's what you do. You go out, get tanked up on lessis (a type of beer?) and you go for an English.
Kulvinder: (to Nina) Ah, get off, you just fancy the waiters, innit?
Sanjeev: All right, 'mite' - (mispronoucing 'mate').
Kulvinder: What's your problem, sonny? We come here every week and spend lots of money... you should be grateful
Meera: I say James, you’re my 'mite' aren’t you, James.
Nina: Hasn't he got lovely pale skin, yeah, it's really nice and pasty.
Meera: Yeah, you know what that say about white men, don't you?
Sanjeev: Jams, we'll have ten ... no, twelve bread rolls, and some of that fancy stuff. Cow (something?)
Kulvinder: Butter
Kulvinder: What's the blandest thing on the menu?
Kulvinder: I'll have that. And bring a fork and knife
Sanjeev: Jams, tell you what. Give him the gammon steak, but leave off all your crap. None of your peach halves or pineapple rings, you know what I mean?
Nina: Could I just have a chicken curry, please?
Man 1: You've got to have something English. No spicy shite.
Kulvinder: Have something a little bland. Hey James. What have you got that's not totally tasteless?
Kulvinder: There you go Nina, steak and kidney pea. (mispronouncing pie as pea)
Nina: I'll want to go to the toilet for a week.
Kulvinder: Nina, that's the point of going for an English
Kulvinder: Hey! Clive of India! Who bloody asked you, eh?
Man 1: Bring the bloody food or I'll do a moony


  • get tanked up - (slang) get drunk
  • fancy - find sexually attractive
  • innit? - (slang) universal tag question - here 'don't you?' (popular among some young people in Britain, but not considered standard English)
  • mate - friendly (too familiar?) way of greeting a man
  • sonny - a word normally used to address a young boy - so here, insulting
  • pasty - (too) white. Someone with a pasty skin doesn't look very healthy
  • bland - lacking in taste, colour, excitement or interest (also opposite of hot, spicy) - bland food, bland music
  • bring a fork and knife - perhaps a reference to asking for chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. Also, we usually say 'knife and fork'. And 'fork and knife' sounds similar to 'fucking knife', so perhaps he's making a bit of a joke
  • Nina tries to order Indian food (It's thought to be 'wimpy' to go to a Indian restaurant and order British food)
  • shite - (slang) in some parts of Brirtain, shit is often pronounced shite
  • Clive of India - A British general and adventurer who established the British presence in India (so not necessarily the most popular historical figure in India!). Here no doubt used insultingly. A drunk Briton in this situation might use the first Indian name he could think of - such as 'Hey Gunga Din, ...'
  • do a moony - show your bare bottom (usually in a public place)


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