28 December 2013


Bring discussion in EFL class down to earth with activities looking at everyday culture. For example, food culture. Food is something we need everyday. It is a major part of culture that we all live and share. And it helps students to celebrate their own culture while using English.

Here is a food collage I plan to try out in January. I would present the collage and then a short set of questions to be discussed in pairs, small groups and then the whole class.

1.  Can you identify the food or dish (#1-15)?
2.  What is it made from?
3.  What country or culture is it identified with?
4. Can you think of other examples of foods that belong in this group?

Answer key:

1.  TOFUYO - from Okinawa, a cheese made from tofu (soy curd).

2.  LIMBURGER CHEESE - from the Duchy of Limburg (now parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands), a very strong smelling cheese from Europe, some is also produced in the US.

3.  SURSTROMMING - from Sweden, fermented Baltic herring, part of traditional Northern Swedish cuisine.

4.  KUSAYA - From Japan, another fermented fish, from the Izu Islands of Japan, usually a fermented mackerel or flying fish.

5.  HESHIKO - From Japan, another fermented fish, usually mackerel, which are placed in fermenting rice bran, not as strong-smelling as kusaya. 

6.  KEFIR - From North Caucasus region, enjoyed all over E. and N. Europe, a fermented milk drink (cow's, goat's, sheep's) that is made using 'kefir grains' made of both yeast and bacteria.

7.  SAUERKRAUT - From Germany and Eastern Europe (but also Alsace), salty fermented cabbage, is the basis of a traditional New Year's meal in the US (the Pennsylvania 'Dutch' / Germans).

8.  KIMCHI - From Korea, fermented napa cabbage and other vegetables, and includes red pepper to make it spicy, enjoyed in Japan too.

9.  NATTO - From Japan, fermented soy beans, is part of a cultural 'divide' in Japan, with eastern Japanese eating natto daily while western Japanese avoid it, there are analogous foods in Central Asia. 

10.  NUKAZUKE - From Japan, various garden vegetables 'pickled' in fermenting rice bran, crispy, delicious and not strong-smelling at all.

11. TEMPEH - From Indonesia (probably Java), another form of fermented soybeans (although sometimes grain and other beans are used), due to it's texture, it has become a popular meat substitute worldwide.

12.  TOCOSH or TOGOSH. From South America, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile--the Quechua peoples, fermented potatoes. Used in traditional cuisines but also for its medicinal properties (it has naturally occurring penicillin in it).

13.  ONCOM - Also (like tempeh) from Indonesia (probably W. Java), is similar to tempeh, but is made from the 'tailings' of other food production--when soy, peanuts, cassava or coconut are used, photo is of PEPES ONCOM, which means oncom cooked in banana leaves (foods cooked in banana leaves are common in Indonesia).

14.  MISO - Japan (but China and Korea have foods that are very similar), fermented soybeans and rice in a paste, used to make a soup and as a basic flavoring in a lot of traditional Japanese cuisine, pictured is a dark type known as AKA-DASHI, a part of traditional cuisine in central Japan (e.g., Nagoya).

15.  SOY SAUCE - Much of Asia, a sauce made from fermented soy beans (and other ingredients), pictured is the Japanese version SHO-YU (a huge national brand, Kikkoman), soy sauce is a basic ingredient to cuisines all over Asia and now the world.

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