Talk About Food and Cooking in English - Spoken English Lesson


Hi, I’m Oli.

Welcome to Oxford Online English!

In this lesson, you can learn how to talk about food.

Youll see how to talk about different cuisines, talk about food you likeor dislikeand

talk about cooking and eating habits.

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with your English speaking, writing, IELTS preparation, or whatever else you need.

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What kind of food do you like?

I like a bit of everything, really.

I grew up in the UK, and you can get food from all over the world there.

My mum’s cooking is a combination of different cuisines: a bit of French, a bit of Italian,

a bit of Indian, and so on.

What’s British cuisine like?

I know about fish and chips, but there must be more

There is, but not that much.

There are a few famous dishes like shepherd’s pie or Sunday roast, but most people eat a

mix of things.

What about you?

What food do you like?

I’m half Spanish, so when I was young we ate a lot of Mediterranean food at home.

Now, I live in Berlin, and it’s a pretty cosmopolitan place, so you can get all kinds

of food, like the UK, I suppose.

I’ve never really had much Spanish food.

Is it similar to Italian?

In some ways, yes.

They both use a lot of fresh ingredients, and there’s a lot of seafood, salads, and

so on.

Pasta isn’t so common in Spanish cooking, though.

What are some typical Spanish dishes?

I’d be interested to try some.

I guess paella is quite well-known.

My personal favourite is a dish called albondigas, which is meatballs in a tomato sauce.

It’s simple, but so tasty.

Sounds good!

Here’s a question: do you know the difference between the wordscuisine’, ‘dish


Cuisinemeans the kind of food you find in a specific country or culture.

For example, you have Chinese cuisine, French cuisine, local cuisine, and so on.

Cuisinemeans something likecooking style’.

You can use the wordfoodorcookingin the same way.

So, you can sayChinese cuisine’, ‘Chinese cookingorChinese food’.

The meaning is very close.

Adishmeans something which is cooked or prepared.

Usually, a dish is made from different kinds of food.

Amealis food eaten at a specific time.

Most people eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We often hear English learners make mistakes with these three words, so be careful with


In the dialogue, you heard how to talk about different cuisines and dishes which you like.

Look at some questions you heard.

Think about how you could answer these.

When you answer these questions, try to be detailed.

For example, don’t just sayVietnamese food is delicious.’

Give some more details!

Say what kind of dishes are the best, or try to explain why you like it.

For example, you could sayVietnamese food is delicious, because it uses fresh ingredients

and it’s a little bit spicy, which I like.’


Pause the video and try to answer the questions now.

Could you do it?

If not, go back and listen to the dialogue again.

Next, let’s look at how to talk about food you likeor don’t!

So, what do you think?

Oh no!

This is terrible!


First, you haven’t cooked the meat long enough.

It’s tough and really chewy.

You need to keep cooking it until it’s tender.

I cooked it for two hours, just like you said!

Yes, but you also have to check that it’s done!

Also, these vegetables are awful.

Theyre mushy because youve overcooked them.

They should be fresh and crunchy.


What about the sauce?

It’s not bad, but it’s a little bland.

A dish like this should be rich, spicy and a little sour.

While youre cooking, don’t forget to taste it, and add more spices, or more vinegar,

or whatever it needs.



I’m a little scared to show you my dessert, now.

Ahh, wow!

This is amazing!


You mean it?


It’s a perfect tart.

It’s crumbly, but not dry, which is a difficult balance to get right.

The fruit gives it a nice, tangy flavour.

Very tasty!

Thank you!

To describe something you ate, you could start with the flavour.

For example, you can use words likespicy’, ‘sour’, ‘sweet’, ‘bitter’, or


Richcan be used to describe heavier foods.

You also heardblandin the dialogue.

Blanddescribes something which has little or no flavour.

Then, you could also describe the texture.

In the dialogue, you heard the wordmushy’.

Do you know what this means?

Mushymeans that something is soft, but in an unpleasant way.

If you cook vegetables too long, theyll get mushy.

In the dialogue, you also heardtough’, ‘chewy’, ‘tender’, ‘crunchyand


Can you think of foods which these words could describe?

Toughandchewyare similar.

Both describe foods which are difficult to eat because you have to chew them for a long


Meat can be tough or chewy, especially if it’s cooked too long and it gets dry.

Tendermeans something likesoft’, but it’s mostly used to describe meat which

is cooked well, so it’s soft and juicy.

Crunchy foods make a lot of noise when youre eating them.

Dry foodlike potato chips, or hard cookiescan be crunchy.

Crumbly food is soft and easily breaks into pieces.

Crumblycan be good or badfor a cake, it might be a good thing, but crumbly

bread might be a bad thing, because it will fall apart when you try to do anything with


If you like the taste of something, you can use general adjectives likegreat’, ‘amazing


You can also usetastyordelicious’.

Be careful: ‘deliciousis a strong adjective.

That means you can’t sayvery delicious’; if you want to add emphasis, sayreally

deliciousorabsolutely delicious’.

To talk about food you don’t like, use general adjectives likeawful’, ‘terrible


Now, a challenge for you: think about the last thing you ate.

Could you describe it?

Talk about the flavour, the texture, and whether you liked it or not.

For a bonus, try to explain why you did or didn’t like it!

For example: ‘The last thing I ate was a lentil soup.

It was quite spicy, but a little bit mushy, because I overcooked the lentils.

I didn’t like it so much, because it was a little bland.

Lentils don’t have much flavour.’

Now it’s your turn.

Pause the video and make your answer.

Next, let’s see how you can talk about cooking habits.

Do you cook much?


I cook maybe twice a week, but I’m too busy to do more than that.

What do you do the rest of the time?

For lunch, I eat in the canteen at work.

In the evening, I generally get something from the supermarket, or get a takeaway.

I don’t like it, because I know it’s more expensive and less healthy than cooking for

myself, but I just don’t have the time.

What about you?

I make most of my meals.

I don’t cook every day, though.

I normally do a lot of cooking on Sunday, and then I have food for the week.

I take a packed lunch to work, and then eat leftovers in the evening.

That’s a good system!

I wish I could be so organised

It helps that I have a market very close to my house.

They have great fresh produce, fish, meateverything you need.

That means I don’t need to spend much time shopping.

Plus, I prefer eating home-cooked, fresh food.

If I don’t have food with me, I end up eating greasy fast food, and then I feel bloated

and gross.

Yeah, I’m the same way

Maybe I’ll start cooking more.

Think about the first question you heard in the dialogue: ‘Do you cook much?’

How would you answer this?

You could say something like: ‘I cook every day.’

‘I don’t cook muchmaybe once or twice a week.’

‘I don’t cook.

I’ve never learned how!’

If you don’t cook, what can you do for food?

You heard some phrases in the dialogue.

Do you remember?

Look at some sentences that you heard.

Imagine youre an English teacher, and you want to explain the meanings of the words

in red.

How would you do it?

A canteen is a bit like a restaurant, but it’s run by a company for its staff, or

by a university for its students.

Canteens are usually cheap, or the food might even be free.

A takeaway means you buy or order the food from a restaurant, and then eat it somewhere

else, usually at home.

A packed lunch means you take food from home and eat it at work or school.

If you cook more than you can eat, the extra food is calledleftovers’.

You can eat the leftovers on another day.

What about you?

Do you cook much?

If not, what do you do for food?

Pause the video now, and try to make a few sentences to describe your cooking and eating




Let’s look at our last point.

So, what do we do first?

First, we need to fry the aubergine and the potato.

While you do that, I’ll prepare the meat.

How are you going to do it?

It’s easy: you sauté onion and garlic, then add the meat to brown it.

Then you add the tomatoes and simmer it for fifteen minutes or so until the sauce thickens.

OK, what now?

Now we need to make the white sauce.

You know how to make white sauce?

I think so, though I’ve never tried it.

It’s butter, flour and milk, right?

Yes, but you need to be careful.

Add the milk very slowly, and stir the sauce continuously.

Otherwise, it can get lumpy.

Should I use a low heat?

Yes, as low as possible.

So, is that it?

Pretty much!

We just need to layer all the parts, sprinkle some grated cheese on top, and then bake it

for half an hour.

What should I do, then?

Get a baking dish.

Put the potatoes in the bottom, then the aubergine, then the meat.

Add another layer of aubergine on top, then pour in the white sauce.

Is it ready?

Yeah, I think so.

It should be lightly brown on top.

Nice workyou made your first moussaka!

By the way, do you know whatmoussakais?

It’s a famous Greek dish.

It’s easy to find recipes online if you want to try making it.

In the dialogue, you heard several different verbs related to food preparation.

Do you remember any?

Look at some pairs of words.

Could you explain the difference in meaning between these words pairs?

Pause the video to think about it if you need time.

Sauté’ andfryboth mean to cook something in hot fatusually hot oil.

Sauté’ means that you cook something at high temperature for a short time.

In everyday language, people mostly sayfry’, but if youre reading a recipe or watching

cooking shows on TV, you might seesauté’.

Boilandsimmerboth mean to heat a liquid until it bubbles; ‘simmersuggests

you keep the heat as low as possible.

Boilmeans you use a higher heat.

Pouris only for liquids.

Sprinklemeans to spread a small amount of something over something else.

Sprinkleis mostly used for powders or things made of small particles, like salt,

herbs, grated cheese, and so on.

Now, it’s your turn.

Think about a dish you know how to make.

Your job is to give detailed instructions for how to make it.

Imagine youre teaching someone, and you want to describe every step of the process.

Before you do this, you can watch the dialogue again.

There are many more words and phrases you can use to help you.

Pause the video, and say your answer out loud.

Or, you can write your answer down and share your recipe with other students in the comments!

That’s all.

Thanks for watching!

See you next time!