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Mark and Steve talk about food and the different types of food they eat at home and that are available in Vancouver.
Mark: Hello, again, and welcome to another episode of EnglishLingQ.
Mark here with Steve.
Steve: Hi there Mark.
Mark: Today, I thought…well, we had some input from Vera.
She asked us to talk about food, which I think is a great suggestion; a little change of pace from our usual topics.
Steve: You know, first of all, I want to really thank Vera for asking for a topic.
I wish more people would tell us what they’re interested in.
We’re quite happy to, you know, talk about subjects that are of interest to people.
Steve: And sometimes we just drone on here and we don’t know if it’s of interest to people or not, so thank you very much Vera.
Mark: Yeah, I mean I think that’s probably a common theme of interest because it’s one of those things.
You wonder, what do people eat in that country or this country?
You know not just at a restaurant, but at home.
What does the average person in…I’m sure Vera’s interested – the average person in Canada, what do they eat at home?
Steve: You know what’s interesting too is in the subject of food is that, to some extent, people are more and more eating the same kinds of things, at least some of the time, just about everywhere.
Steve: I mean we lived in Japan and, well, we both love Japanese food.
We love going for sushi and we like eating, you know, even the grilled fish and the deep-fried chicken — karaage — and miso shiro soup.
This is going to be difficult for our transcriber, but in Japan Italian food is very popular and Chinese food is very popular.
Mark: Right. Yeah, absolutely, all kinds of food.
I mean, obviously, everything is more internationalized these days.
You can get any type of food.
Not anywhere, but certainly here and in Japan and in Europe.
Actually, when I was in Italy I found it to a lesser extent.
Steve: Mostly Italian.
Mark: Mostly Italian food, but there were Chinese restaurants and, of course, McDonald’s.
Steve: …and the inevitable Turkish cabob house…
Mark: Yeah, right.
Steve: …and Donair where they’re slicing whatever it is.
It’s not pork I know.
I don’t know, but it’s some kind of meat.
You know last night, for example, I was at home because my wife has gone away on a trip with her family – her sisters – so I was able to, first of all, I opened a can of Portuguese sardines that we bought in Portugal.
Steve: They were so good in olive oil.
So I said to myself, I’m going to go down to Commercial Drive, which is the Italian sort of part of town…
Steve: …to buy some canned fish, because the canned fish we get in our supermarkets here I don’t like very much.
Steve: And then my wife had prepared some stews like a beef bourguignon, which is, you know, a French-type stew which I made with a bit of rice and I had a little glass of wine with that and a bit of a chocolate bar as my, you know, dessert treat.
Steve: That was my meal.
What did you have last night?
Mark: Ah, let me think.
Ah, we had chicken.
I guess they were chicken thighs baked in the oven in some kind of a curry sauce on top of rice with some asparagus on the side, which was really nice.
Steve: You know I should mention that I also had salad last night.
I had a variety of three different types of salads.
I had the ordinary romaine lettuce, I had arugula and I had radicchio and I sprinkled pumpkin seeds in that and then in my dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just to let you know.
Mark: You’re trying to impress me with how sophisticated you are in the kitchen?
Mark: That does sound pretty good.
Steve: However, once the pre-prepared, pre-cooked dishes run out I’m kind of…
Mark: The quality dropped off a bit?
Steve: The quality will drop off.
Mark: Oh, yeah.
Steve: But I’ll be baking in the oven…
Mark: So you did go down to Commercial Drive and find some canned fish?
Steve: No, I want to go down there.
Mark: Oh, you want to go down.
Steve: I want to go down there and when I go down there I will also stop at…what’s it called Fujita?
Which is a tremendous shop that has all kinds of Japanese food and I was thinking I’d bring you some stuff too.
Mark: Oh, yeah? That’d be good.
Mark: I know my wife met some friends who were here for the Olympics — who had been in Japan when we were in Japan — and they found this little Japanese store downtown that had all the snacks and treats that they had been used to buying when they were in Japan.
So they were all quite excited and brought some of that stuff home.
They did have great treats in Japan.
Steve: The dried squid…
Mark: No, no.
Steve: …with peanuts and beer on the train?
Mark: No. Not so much that, but just their chocolate bars…
Steve: Oh, yeah.
Mark: …and different sweets that they make.
Steve: But, I mean, you will often eat Chinese food at home?
Mark: Yeah, we eat all kinds of things.
You know, whether it’s…
Steve: And the kids love nori — seaweed?
Mark: …spaghetti or, you know, lasagna, Italian food, pizza or, you know, hamburgers, Mexican food, you know, enchiladas, tacos and that kind of thing…Chinese food.
Steve: I notice when I eat at your place we’ll often have a meat of some kind.
Very often you barbeque it if it’s potentially in the summer…
Steve: …or it’s prepared in some way.
Often it’s, you know, you might let it sit in a mixture of soy sauce and something or other beforehand.
Mark: Yeah, marinate it and put it on the barbeque.
Mark: I mean we cook a lot on the barbeque too, for sure, and eat that with potatoes or roast potatoes.
And you’ll normally have at least two vegetables, sort of maybe a salad plus another vegetable dish?
Steve: Asparagus or root vegetables often; a mixture of root vegetables.
And that’s not to say that everybody eats the same as we do.
I mean everybody kind of does things a little differently.
Mark: Some people are keener at cooking on their own.
Mark: Other people are quite happy to buy prepared stuff in the grocery store or order in or, you know, eat frozen food.
I mean you get quite the range, but all I can really speak about is what we do at home.
Steve: Well, certainly, the same at our place.
I mean Carmen cooks.
She never buys prepared, you know, whatever.
Mark: Or rarely.
Mark: Sometimes you do get some of that.
I remember you had that stuff from your golf club.
Steve: Oh, from the golf club.
Because we have a quarterly allowance that we have to spend.
Steve: So when we haven’t eaten there we’ll go down and buy a pizza or lasagna and take it home and eat it so that we use up the money; otherwise, the money, you know, is lost to us.
Steve: But, no.
And, in fact, in the fridge right now I have fish, I have meat sitting there and I’m going to have to decide what to do with it.
My favorite tool is the oven…because less can go wrong.
Failing that, the other great thing for people when they’re on their own is you can go into a supermarket and for like $6 you can buy a whole barbequed chicken.
I mean I don’t know how they do it.
Mark: Yeah, that was also popular in Austria and Switzerland when I was there.
It also was cheap and good.
Buy a roasted chicken with some bread rolls and…
Steve: …you’re away.
Mark: …away you go.
Steve: Make a little salad.
Mark: Yeah, that was always good and that’s good here too.
It’s cheap and good and yeah.
I mean it’s easy enough, obviously, to order in pizza.
Or there are a lot of sushi shops so a lot of the time, if we’re going to bring food in, we’ll stop and get some sushi and bring it home.
Steve: You know it is amazing just how popular sushi has become.
It’s a standard.
Steve: You know when I first ate raw fish in 1969 I thought I was taking my life into my hands.
Steve: That I would die of food poisoning right there on the spot in Tokyo.
You know, it was almost like…I mean raw fish?
Are you kidding me?
Like raw fish?
Like a fish?
You know you kill it and then you just take the meat out and eat it?
But now it’s as popular as pizza just about.
Steve: It’s almost become more popular than Chinese food…
Steve: … in terms of take out.
Mark: Yeah, for sure.
It used to be Chinese food and pizza for the longest time and that was it, right?
Mark: And now, yeah, there’s a lot.
A lot more variety, in general, in which you can take out…
Mark: …but, certainly, there’s the explosion of sushi shops in the last 10 years.
Steve: A small percentage of which are run by Japanese people.
Steve: And the rest are run by enterprising Koreans and Chinese and so forth.
Mark: Yeah. I mean and that’s all over town.
Steve: But you know what has surprised me too is, first of all, we have this tremendous variety now of foods which reflect, of course, the ethnic makeup of Vancouver to a large extent, but also the variety of food that’s now available in the supermarket.
The variety of fruit and vegetables, different cuts of meat and fish, it’s just amazing.
And it used to be you’d almost have to go to a specialty delicatessen to get some of these things and now, I think these supermarkets, they can’t be in business if they don’t provide…
Steve: This, ah…
Mark: More variety.
Steve: More variety, yeah.
Although, I will say that the supermarkets that I’ve seen in France and Spain are more spectacular than here.
Steve: I mean the variety of cheeses and in Spain you’ll have this great long row; fifty feet long of nothing but hams.
Smoked hams hanging, you know?
And, of course, anyway…
Mark: I mean, obviously, for different kinds of things you’re going to have…like people are into eating all those different kinds of things there that they have at the market.
Mark: But, I mean people here probably don’t differentiate much between different types of hams.
I guess it’s not… I remember when I was in Italy our hockey team used to stop on the way to another town where we had a game.
We’d always stop in the same place for these famous sandwiches.
You’d get in there and half the place was different varieties of ham and salami and whatever they were all called.
Different cuts of dried, cured meat and then the other half was the different types of cheeses.
You’d go in and point to pick out some kind of ham and some kind of cheese and the guy would give you these thick slabs of bread with the ham and cheese in them, nothing else.
No mayo, no lettuce, no nothing, just bread, ham, cheese.
Mark: It was great.
It was great.
I still remember that funny place kind of in the middle of nowhere.
But, as you described, the variety of sausage and ham and cheese that they have in Europe is something we certainly don’t have here.
Steve: We don’t have it here, but we are starting.
In terms of restaurants, we see more variety.
Like one of the things we’re seeing now are different types of Japanese restaurants.
Where instead of having the traditional Japanese restaurant you have this izakaya-type restaurant where they have all kinds of little dishes like they have in Japan.
And there’s a lot of these now in Vancouver.
Mark: A lot and ramen shops.
Steve: Ramen shops, yeah.
Where we see less variety is in the Chinese restaurants.
The Chinese restaurants all seem to follow the same formula.
Steve: Big round table, you know, scroll on the wall with the smoke rising over the little village and the phoenix.
Mark: I mean that’s kind of how their… I mean I don’t know.
I’ve never been to China or not that I remember, but I mean that’s how they do it.
Steve: Yeah, but in Japan there seems to be more different sort of modern adaptation, fusion; looking to do different things.
I had the impression, actually, that there’s more of that in China than there is here.
That you find more call it experimental fusion-type restaurants with Chinese food in China than here; whereas, here it seems to be this sort of set formula.
There’s certainly sort of the standard Chinese restaurant that does a lot of take out business.
Mark: Yeah, but, I mean, I think there are some fusion-type places, I think. I don’t know.
Steve: When you look at the kind of ethnic restaurants we have here, we have a lot of Asian restaurants, a lot of Italian restaurants, some French restaurants, one or two Russian restaurants.
I have to know that because I’m interested in Russian.
Steve: There might be one or two German restaurants.
Steve: But that used to be more popular.
Steve: There used to be, you know, Wolfgang’s Haus or something.
H-a-u-s (Haus) with the, you know, edelweiss decorations and stuff.
Steve: That seems less popular nowadays.
Steve: We have the Arabic, you know, Eastern Mediterranean, call it Lebanese, whatever.
There’s a fair amount of Persian restaurants because we have a large Persian population.
Steve: Thai restaurants.
Mark: Indian restaurants.
Steve: Greek, India, yeah.
Mark: Greek used to be more popular.
It seems to be fewer.
Steve: There’s still a fair number.
Mark: I guess there are, yeah.
Mark: Thai is quite popular.
Steve: Thai, Vietnamese as well.
Steve: What have we left out?
You know Turkish, which is supposed to be one the great cuisines of the world; I don’t know that we have a Turkish restaurant in Vancouver.
Mark: Isn’t that what Bonaire’s are?
Steve: Sort of, but that’s kind of common
Steve: Everywhere from Greece to Afghanistan from what I can see.
Steve: I don’t know.
Steve: I don’t know, yeah.
But, you know, purely Turkish as opposed to say Lebanese or Iranian.
I don’t know.
It’s all quite similar I guess.
Mark: I guess so.
Mark: I mean I guess here, especially, you can pretty much find anything restaurant wise it seems to me.
Steve: You know one thing I was thinking, we should probably talk a little bit about the different ways of cooking because there’s different, you know, terminology there.
So you can bake something in the oven and you can fry it in a frying pan and you can let it simmer at low heat in the frying pan.
So these are all common terms.
Mark: You can grill stuff on the barbeque.
Steve: You can even use a spit if you have a very sophisticated barbeque…
Mark: Yeah, yeah.
Steve: …so it will turn on the spit.
Steve: What else can you do?
You can broil, which is very strong heat from up above as opposed to the whole oven heating it.
Steve: You can deep fry.
Mark: Yeah, which is cooking things in a boiling pot of oil.
Steve: In a way, you can use a wok (w-o-k).
Steve: People do that even for western food.
Mark: Yeah, like stir frying in a wok.
Steve: Stir fry.
Mark: You can obviously boil food.
Steve: You can boil. You can steam.
Mark: Yeah, steam.
Steve: Very often, if you’re going to put something in the oven, you may want to sear it first in the fry pan just to close it in by getting some heat to it and then finish it off in the oven.
What else can we do?
Mark: That’s probably reaching the extent of our knowledge in the kitchen.
Steve: Good enough for now.
Mark: You’d have to ask someone a little more skilled.
Actually what we should do is you should do this interview with Kindrey.
Mark: Yeah, that’s right.
Steve: That might have been a better idea.
Mark: That’s right.
Steve: From a couple of clowns talking about cooking here.
Mark: This is a good start though… You know, you’re not going to get the terminology from one episode.
Steve: Right. No, no, no.
Mark: Anyway, with that we’ll probably leave you.
Mark: Keep the suggestions coming.
Steve: Right. Even if we didn’t do such a good job on the food, as us to talk about sport and we’ll do better.
Mark: Okay, bye-bye.
Steve: Bye for now.