The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Thursday, April 30, 2009

British Cuisine - Pies

Pies are very popular food items in the UK. A pie is an oven-baked dish which is usually made of a pastry shell that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients. A pie can be completely closed like the one in the photo, it can be open with just a pastry bottom or it can have a 'top-crust' where the filling is in the dish with a pastry top.

Popular savoury pies in the UK include:

Chicken and Mushroom
Steak and Ale
Steak and Kidney
Meat and Potato
Wild Rabbit

These are served piping hot with gravy and vegetables as a main meal. You can find many of these pies in pubs and cafés.

Popular sweet pies in the UK include:

Apple and Blackberry

These are served either hot with custard or cold with cream or icecream.

Pies are so popular in Britain that there is a whole week dedicated to them. Check out the website from this year's Pie Week. In the north of England in my home town there is a village known as the Pie Village. Find out why here.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's the Difference ? - 4


These two verbs are often mixed up by non-native speakers of English. They are especially confusing for the Spanish because they are often used the opposite way round!

The thing to remember is that in English the position and perspective of the person speaking is important.

We use 'go' to describe movement away from the place where the speaker or hearer is.

Are you going to English class tonight? (said by one student to another in the street)
I need to go to the supermarket tonight.
Shall we go to the cinema at the weekend?
When are you going to Spain ? (asked by one friend to another who is in the same country)

We use 'come' to describe movement towards the place where the speaker or hearer is.

Is Juan coming to class today? (Said by the teacher to the rest of the students)
No, he isn't coming to class today. (A student replies to the teacher's question)
I'm going home. Do you want to come with me? (I go to my house but you come with me)
When are you coming to Spain? (asked by someone in Spain to someone in another country)

The main mistake is made when the teacher sees a student in the corridor and asks if they are coming to class. The student often replies 'I go now' when of course he / she should say 'I'm coming now' because they need to see things from the teacher's perspective. Also when someone calls your name from another room, you should say 'coming'.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Word of the Week - 48


This week's word is related to the flu epidemic sweeping Mexico. Swine is an old-fashioned word for pig as well as a specialized word, which is the case when we say Swine flu. If you refer to a person as a swine you consider them to be extemely inpleasant and unkind.

Although the word 'swine' may not be very useful to you in your daily lives, it did get me thinking about other pig expressions. A male pig is called a hog and the word hog can be used informally as a verb meaning to take or use more than your fair share of something, somewhat like a pig might do!

My sister is always hogging the bathroom, she is in there for hours on end!
Why do you always hog the telephone, other people need to use it, you know!

There is also a phrasal verb formed from the verb pig and the particle out. To pig out is to eat a lot or too much of not necessarily healthy food!

The children pigged out on sweets and chocolate all day and couldn't eat there dinner!
Whenever I'm feeling a bit sad I pig out on cakes and ice-cream!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

British Cuisine - The Full Breakfast

Contrary to popular belief, British people do not have a full cooked breakfast every day. Most people eat toast with butter and jam or cereal for breakfast. There isn't enough time in the morning, before school or work, to prepare a full cooked breakfast and who could face all that food at 7 o' clock? This food is usually eaten at the weekends, in hotels on holiday or in pubs and cafés which serve it as an all-day meal. Some people eat it as brunch instead of having a separate breakfast and lunch.
In slang terms, many Brits refer to this breakfast as a fry-up and some of cheaper not so nice looking cafés serving primarily this food are known as greasy spoons.

The typical ingredients of the breakfast vary in different regions but the staple foods are eggs (fried or poached), sausages and bacon. You may also find cooked tomatoes, baked beans, fried mushrooms, black pudding (morcilla), hash browns (potato cakes), toast, eggy bread and many more things. All this food is supposed to be fried but some people prefer it grilled to make it a little healthier and less coronary-inducing! All this should be accompanied with a glass of orange juice and a nice cup of tea!

Perhaps much more common these days are hot sandwiches using ingredients from the full breakfast. Bacon sandwiches, bacon and egg sandwiches, sausage sandwiches, sausage and egg and mushroom sandwiches. These are generally served in a bread roll.
So, if you are going to the UK to stay with a family and study English, don't expect to have to eat a full cooked breakfast every morning, but if you wish you could go to a café and try one. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is a breakfast that is sure to keep you going into the early evening!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Word of the Week - 47


This week's word is an informal verb (common among British teenagers) which means to study hard, usually by reading or learning about something, before an exam. A lot of you will need to start swotting pretty soon, that is if you haven't already, because the Cambridge exams are just around the corner! You may be thinking to yourselves "Oh, but I have plenty of time, the exams aren't until June", but the sooner you start to swot up on your grammar, vocabulary and general skills, the better! You don't want to leave everything until the last minute and find yourself cramming for the exam the night before!!!

This word can also be used as a noun and applied in a disapproving way to describe somebody who studies hard. It is the equivalent of 'empollón' in Spanish.

"John is such a swot, he always has his head in a book!"
"You're just jealous because he gets better grades than you."

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An unlucky day?

Many people quote the 13th as the unluckiest day in the calendar, although throughout history the 14th of April has not been a very lucky day either!

On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while he was watching a play at the Ford's Theater.

On this day in 1912, the Titanic struck an iceburg at 11.40pm and began to sink.

On this day in 1944, a massive explosion hit Bombay Harbour killing 300 people.

On this day in 1986, the heaviest hailstones ever recorded fell on Bangladesh killing 92 people.

However, it is not all bad news. If you are single and living in South Korea, today is the unofficial celebration day for you. It is known as Black Day and is the single person's equivalent to Valentine's Day.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Word of the Week - 45


Hello Everyone. Hope you had a lovely Easter. I'm back again now with a new word of the week. I have chosen this word because, according to my mother, I say it about ten times a day.
The word is an adjective with the most common usage being to describe something that is done or happens by chance rather than by following some kind of plan.

I asked a random selection of people what they thought about the film.
The winners were chosen at random from a hat.

In slang the word can be used to mean 'weird' or 'strange'.

He's been acting a bit randomly of late.
Oh, that's a bit random isn't it?

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