Talking about bread, pasta, potatoes and rice in English


Talking about bread, pasta, potatoes and rice in English

Talking about bread, pasta, potatoes and rice in English is easy to do in English because near all cultures eat these foods. But there is a challenge. The Chinese and the Italians don’t make pasta the same way. German bread and American bread aren’t the same. This means that when you talk about these foods, you need to be a bit more specific about how these foods are prepared.



These are the most common types of bread.


white bread, sliced bread, sliced pan, Wonder bread
rye bread
pumpkin seed bread
whole grain
naan bread
flatbreads: tortillas, durums, pita bread, lavash, Injera
bagels, biali(s)
sourdough bread
potato bread


Average people do not normally talk about a particular species of potato. Instead, they talk about the potato dish they are having. For this reason, rather than listing potato varieties, I will list potato dishes.


Potatoes dishes
baked potatoes, jacket potatoes(GB)
mashed potatoes
potato pancakes
potato farls
potato latkes
potatoes au gratin
scalloped potatoes
roasted potatoes
potatoes dauphinoise
fries: Belgian fries, steak fries, potato fries, shoestring fries, cheese fries, crazy fries, sweet potato fries, freedom fries, French fries

Pasta & Noodles

The only thing I love more than pasta, is more pasta. See below for a list of pastas and noodles.


capellini, angel hair
tortelloni, tortellini

Asian noodles

While pasta as we think of it is from Italy, pasta’s parents are from Asia. For this reason, when we think of pasta, we think of Italy, and when we think of noodles, we have to think of all of Asia. Here, I will name only a few of the hundreds and hundreds of types of Asian pasta. If you know of a noodle that isn’t on this list that should be, write me.


chow mein
lo mein
soba noodles
rice noodles
cellophane noodles/glass noodles


If you think there are many kinds of noodles, there are even more types of rice. here is a short list of types of rice.


Rice dishes and types of rice
white rice
brown rice
long grain rice
jasmine rice
wild rice
arborio rice

What about couscous, bulgar, and quinoa?

I figured you might ask that. To read up on these, check out my post on Cuisines of Cultures and Countries.

What happens now?

With the terms above, you should be able to talk about most basic types of bread, potatoes, pasta and rice dishes. Stay tuned for my next blog where I tell you how to talk about flavours, herbs, spices and cooking methods. There will also be a few quizzes.

Talking about travelling and commuting in English

Talking about travelling and commuting in English

One of the mistakes that most beginners make when learning English is that they tend to focus on the vehicle or the mode of transportation. They always say “by car” or “by plane” or “by foot“. In the most extreme of cases, they say things like, “I go travelling with my car.“, which in English sounds just as clever as, “I go travelling…with my feet“.

Of course the speakers of other languages don’t find this to be unusual. In many languages, I go travelling with my feet is a perfectly good sentence. No one laughs. In this case, English is different. In English, we can say we went by car, on we got there on foot, but if we do, it’s because we want to emphasize that there is something extreme and unusual about the way we travelled there.



The 4×4 broke down in the middle of the desert. Luckily, some of the people who lived in the desert helped us and were able to make it to the other side on foot.


We left L.A. on Monday morning and we arrived in Boston by lunchtime on Tuesday. By car?! Wow! That’s impressive!

How English speakers talk about travelling and commuting

So, if English speakers don’t say, we went by boat, by bike, by metro, by horse, what do we say?

Generally, we tend to focus on the verb. In most cases, the verb indicates which mode of transportation or vehicle we are using, so we never have to say it.



Tim: How did you get to work today?
Nigel: I drove.


In the example above, Nigel doesn’t have to say, “I drove a car.”, because most people only drive cars. If Nigel is a bus driver or a chauffer, he might have to be a bit more specific. Notice also that Nigel doesn’t have to say I drove my car. If we do drive, the car the we usually drive is a car that we own. Not always, but usually.


So, what about other forms of transportation? How do English speakers talk about them?


Talking about modes of transportation

These are the most common types of transport.


Mode of transport What people say Logic
by foot (to) walk, run we can only do these things with our feet
by taxi, train, bus, ferry, metro, and the elevator(the lift (GB)) (to) take (took) It’s public transportation. We “take” public transport. * special: You can also say that you catch (caught) any kind of public transport and if you fail to catch an intended public transport vehicle, you can say that you missed it, e.g. “I missed the train.”
bicycle, motorcycle, *bike, quad, jetski, waterski, snow mobile, horse (to) ride (rode) These modes of transportation all require the same bodily position – with one leg on each side of the vehicle. Operating a vehicle this way is called riding as in horseback-riding.
by boat (not a canoe, kayak or row-boat) (to)sail Originally all boats had sails so this is the verb we still use today. But we use it for all boats, not just the ones with sails. Even giant aircraft carriers or oil tankers
plane, airplane(US)/aeroplane(GB), helicopter, space shuttle, space ship (to) fly (flew) Planes fly, so when we use a plane for transportation, we say, we “fly”.
by car, tank, or any other vehicle with wheels that YOU are operating. (to)drive (drove) The logic is that you are controlling the power and the direction of the horses in front of you. The strength of engines is measured in horsepower. Managing the horses in this way is called driving. Although this is an ancient way of thinking, this is why we say we drive a car.
by small boats: canoe, kayak, row-boat (to) canoe, kayak, row these vehicles are so unique, they get their own verb.
by skateboard, hoverboard (to) skateboard, hoverboard, ride (rode) these vehicles also have their own verbs, or you can use the verb ride although you don’t have to operate them in the same way you operate a bicycle.
by surfboard (to) surf If you can travel by surfboard. Wow!

And now?

With the terms above, you should be able to talk about most basic types of transport and you can also sound more natural. So remember to use I traveled/travelled by + (vehicle), less than 10% of the time, and try not to use it in the first sentence that you use in order to talk about a particular mode of transportation unless you are saying that there was something really special about it.


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Talking about meat and seafood in English

Talking about food in English

Talking about food in English is similar to talking about food in your own language. But first, we have to ask an important question.


Who are you talking to?


A waiter in England or the United States? Your host who has invited you to stay with them in Ireland or Australia? The bride at a wedding? The pizza delivery guy?

As you can see, it’s important to know what we want to say. Sometimes we want to:

  • Compliment the chef
  • Ask questions about the food
  • Describe a meat or fish dish from our country to someone who doesn’t know it


In this post, we will only talk about the way to describe meat and seafood. Since food is an interesting topic for many people you may have to describe food from your country.
We’ll start with meat. Feel free to skip ahead, if you want to focus on fish and seafood.

Meat and seafood

In some countries only land animals are considered meat while birds and sea life are not. In English, generally birds (sometimes called “fowl” or “poultry” and food from the sea (“seafood”) are all considered meat are generally considered meat unless the speaker wants to be very technical.


Also – In many countries, the name of the animal is also the name of the food. In English, this is true for chicken and fish, but we usually use different names for the animal once it is prepare for consumption.


Take a look at the table below.


Animal Food
cow beef
young cow veal
sheep lamb
old sheep mutton
deer venison
pig pork
young pig suckling pig
wild pig boar
rabbit rabbit
goat goat
chicken(male, female) chicken
turkey turkey
duck duck
goose goose

Seafood: fish

For seafood (= fish and shellfish) we just call the food by the same name as the animal.

Here are some of the foods we eat from the sea.


Type of fish
dorada, seabream

Seafood: shellfish

Here are the names of the most common shellfish.


shrimp(like prawns but smaller)
langostines (like big prawns)
razor clams
crayflish (like tiny lobsters)

What happens now?

With the terms above, you should be able to basically descibe most basic meats. Stay tuned for my next blog where I tell yu how to talk about fruit and veg, starches, and cooking methods. There will also be a few quizzes.