Strange Food — a Talking Points lesson for English and ESL

This is a lesson plan about food — but not just any food. This is about some of the strangest dishes you can find in the world today.

If you are looking for English/ESL exercises about food that will engage your students, then take a look below.

And if you like it, you can download the entire lesson plan here — Strange Food.

 


Introduction

 

What is the strangest food you have ever tried? Tell the class.

Is there any food in your country that foreign people may regard as strange? Why would they think it is strange?

 

Reading

 

“I ate some pretty strange food while travelling in Asia.”

Jerry laughs the comment off but he is dead serious about some of the culinary delights he tried while backpacking around Asia.

“I could not believe some of the things I ate,” he says. “When I sent pics back home, some people were clearly quite disgusted by it.”

It all started when Jerry graduated from university. He worked for his uncle who owns a building firm.

“I was basically the general dogsbody. But I made some money and then went off to Thailand. While working at my uncle’s place the most exotic lunch I had was a bacon and egg sandwich.”

After he arrived in Thailand, he started to sample the local dishes.

“There was green chicken curry, tom yam soup, all the usual touristy kind of stuff. Then I tried hon mhai.”

Jerry takes a deep breath.

“Basically, it’s fried silkworms. I first tried them on this small food street, a woman was selling them on a stall along with other insect dishes. You can also see them in bars. The Thais think they’re great as a bar snack.”

He didn’t have anything good to say about the dish though.

“They taste disgusting. Really bitter and have this nasty squelchy feeling in your mouth. I’m not a fan.”

His next stop was Cambodia.

“I loved Cambodia. Great country and great people. But the food…”

It was here that Jerry graduated up the food chain to something much stranger than silkworms.

“Tarantula. I ate a tarantula.”

He makes a face at the sheer thought of it.

“What really surprised me was the size of it. It was about as big as my hand. I took a little bite of it and it didn’t taste too bad.

You have to eat them when the legs are really stiff. Then you know that the rest of the spider is cooked too.”

Jerry found that in Cambodia the local women eat fried tarantula because it can make them more beautiful.

“I don’t know if it did anything for my looks. I don’t know if I would eat one again.”

Jerry also tried other dishes such as snake, crickets, eggs soaked in urine, frog and turtle.

“I had to try all this food,” says Jerry. “It’s all part of the experience of being in the country.”

Jerry also found that many people in Asia regard western food to be very strange too.

“In England, we often have the standard set meal as meat and two veg, but for many Asian people, they think this is very odd. They like a lot of variety in their dishes and they want to have different textures in all the food at the dinner table.

A girl I met in Vietnam said I was like a small child because I liked to have cereal for breakfast.”

Jerry also found that while American fast-food is extremely popular in Asian countries, most of the local people never eat it.

“They think it’s disgusting. It’s mostly young people that eat at those places.”

So where next, Jerry?

“I want to go to Brazil. You can eat chicken hearts there.”

 

Reading Comprehension Questions

 

Where did Jerry travel to and why?

What was he doing before he travelled there?

What was the first country he went to?

What food did he try first in this country?

What was the first food he tried in this country that was very different? What did Jerry think of it?

What was the second place he went to?

What did he eat there? What was surprising about it?

Name some other ‘strange’ food that Jerry tried in his travels. Why did he insist on trying this food?

What did he find out about Asian’s peoples’ perception of western food?

What did one person tell him about his breakfast?

What did he find out about fast food in Asia?

Where is Jerry going next?

 

Essential Vocabulary

 

pretty strange

laugh (something) off

dead serious

culinary delights

backpacking

disgusted

graduated

building firm

general dogsbody

exotic

sample

touristy stuff

deep breath

bar snack

disgusting

bitter

nasty squelchy

not a fan

next stop

up the food chain

tarantula

sheer thought

stiff

standard set

meat and two veg

very odd

variety

textures

cereal

extremely popular

Exercise

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary

and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when

studying.

I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”

 

The Café de Très Délicieux!

 

You are a marketing group and you have been hired to write the menu for a brand new restaurant chain in town.

The only problem is that you have to write about some very strange food and make it sound delicious. Use your imagination and creative ability to come up with a fantastic menu that makes many people want to come into the restaurant and try all the dishes.

There is an example at the bottom of the page to help you.

  • Fried spider
  • Boiled snake eggs
  • Cockroach curry
  • Goat’s head soup
  • Octopus salad
  • Roasted mouse in durian sauce
  • Horse leg with coconut garnish
  • Cow’s eyes in syrup
  • Baked banana and ants
  • Bat wings fried in chicken blood

Example; fried spider marinated in a rich butter sauce and lightly fried to perfection. Bite through the crispy exterior to discover a tender and succulent sauce inside comprised of the spider’s blood and intestines. The legs have a crispy texture that is satisfying to bite into and taste the fine spider sinew inside.

 

Discussion Questions

 

What is the strangest food you have ever tried? Describe it for the class.

What food in the world do you find to be strange? Why do you think it is strange?

What food do you think foreign people would find strange in your own country? Why?

Do you think that people can eat any kind of plant or animal on the planet? State your reasons.

Is there any particular kind of food that you absolutely would not eat? For example; milk or pork? State your reasons why.

In Scotland, there is a kind of food called haggis. This is sheep’s stomach filled with entrails. Would you eat this? Is there any similar food like this in your own country?

There is a fruit in parts of Asia called durian. It has a very distinctive smell. Why is this so popular do you think? Why is not so popular in western countries?

What do you think of the different eating habits of different countries? In western countries, people eat with a knife and fork while in other countries people use chopsticks or even just their hand. Explain the differences and why you think they happen.

How did breakfast, lunch and dinner become habits? Why not just eat when we are hungry?

What are some popular snacks in your country? Describe them for the class.

 

Writing

 

Write about a food or dish that you really love to eat.

But write about it as if it is the most disgusting food you have ever eaten in your life.

 


What did you think of this lesson plan on strange food? Was it useful in your class?

Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


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4 thoughts on “Strange Food — a Talking Points lesson for English and ESL”

  1. Hey David I loved this lesson plan! I especially liked the exercise of writing great descriptions for strange foods to make them interesting for the ‘new restaurant’. It would be a really fun exercise for students. Additionally eating is something everyone does, so it it’s a great way to explore different cultures and their eating preferences.

    1. David Buckley

      Thank you Leona. I often think that lesson plans on food can be a bit more interesting. So I thought a lesson on strange food might be more engaging for the students. I’m very glad you liked this lesson!

      1. Yes food is very exciting and offers great possibilities for conversations and there are always surprises for you as a teacher to learn about food preferences.

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