Hot dog with mustard, relish and onionsSummertime is the time to travel, exploring people, places and culture. Yet, we often hesitate to try the foods that are deeply part of the culture, especially when we are not certain what it is or how to pronounce it.

My German physical therapist in Shanghai entertained me with stories of her adventures exploring the USA – from San Diego to Louisiana to Chicago to New Jersey. In each of these areas, she found the local food at the restaurants and festivals, the most interesting.

Here is some Syllable Stress Practice for a few menu interesting items that Anke found.

In the south she encountered “HOP-pin’ John”, a favorite made with black-eyed peas, rice and crackling fried bacon or ham-hock, seasoned with salt, vinegar and differing spices depending on the exact state. It usually had a side dish of cooked greens, such as CO-llard greens, TURnip greens, kale (KAIL), or Chard (“SHARD”). It was supposed to bring “good luck” to the one who ate it. To round out the meal one usually had HOME-made BU-ttermilk (BU-der-milk) BIScuits (BIS-kits) and HONey: Delicious!

Several Chinese friends went to school in Madison, Wisconsin where they experienced Backyard BAR-B-ques (BAR-Bee-kyuz) that often had BRATs /BRAHTS/ (a type of ground meat sausage) on HARD rolls followed by S’MOREs, a dessert of two sweet graham crackers with a MARSH-Mellow and a chocolate /CHO-Kluht/ piece melted together over the BBQ /BarBeeQu/ fire.

Meander into larger American cities and menus become more diverse with American-styled ‘ethnic foods’ such as Chop SU-ey , Rueben /RU-ben/ /SANwich/, Taco /TAHko/, and Lasagna /la-SAHNG-ya/.

To help you learn the pronunciation of food names, you can refer to the International Menu Speller, by Kenneth N. and Lois E. Anderson (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993)

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