Gerry’s Diary 177: Favourite meals, coffee mugs, a Swiss-Welsh concert (18th November, 2016)

Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday 18th November 2016. After a warm and sunny autumn in October, the weather suddenly changed at the beginning of November. It got much colder with strong winds and rain from the north. On the mountains we saw our first snow of this winter. November 5th is Bonfire [1] Night – a special British festival and we have fireworks [2]. I’ve told you about this before. [See Gerry’s Diary 23, 43 and 65] It’s also my daughter’s birthday and this year she came with her family to stay for the weekend. We had fireworks on the Saturday night. For Lulu and PJ it was their first fireworks party. It was very exciting for them. And my daughter chose sausages to eat for her birthday meal – because that was her favourite birthday meal when she was a little girl! Later I’m going to talk about Britain’s favourite meal – because that was my pub quiz question last time. But I can tell you now that it isn’t sausages! My other stories this week are about coffee drinking and a concert I went to.


I had lots of messages after the last show. Thank you to all of you who wrote. Most of you tried to answer my question about Great Britain’s favourite meal [3]. The BBC asked 5000 British people this year questions about eating and food. One question was “What is your favourite meal?” And I asked you to guess the answer. Of course, there is no real answer to this question. It 20161118 E PJs Sunday roastdepends… It depends on [4] how you understand the question. Is it about a special meal, for example for your birthday? Or is about what you like to eat every day or every week? Also, there are lots of surveys [5] like this one and different surveys get different answers. But in this case, the top five meals were at number 5 steak and chips, number 4 was pasta, 3 was pizza, 2 was curry and number 1 was Sunday roast. When my daughter came for the weekend we went out to eat Sunday lunch and most of us had the Sunday roast. A Sunday roast [6] can be beef, or a leg of lamb, pork or a roast chicken. You have some slices [7] of meat, usually with two types of potato (roast potato [8] and mash [9]), also usually with Yorkshire pudding (and don’t ask me what that is – it’s too difficult to explain!), about three or four different vegetables and gravy [10] (a meat sauce). And if it’s chicken it should have some stuffing [11] as well. As you can see, it’s a big thing to cook, but if it’s well cooked it tastes very good. When we had our Sunday roast with Lulu and PJ they got a children’s portion [12], and you can see a photo of PJ’s plate on the website after he enjoyed the meat, the potato and the gravy.

Congratulations to Madeleine and Armin who got the right answer. Perhaps they found the BBC survey on the internet. There were some other good answers. Käthi and Monika thought that Italian food like pizza and pasta is the world’s favourite. I think they’re probably right. The BBC survey did say that young people prefer pizza and pasta. Charles found different results in different surveys. In one, a bacon sandwich was the favourite but that’s not really a meal, is it? It’s more like a favourite snack.

Personally, I like a Sunday roast – and it is a typically British meal. So many of our other meals are now international – Italian, Indian, Thai or Chinese – you find them everywhere. I like to eat local food as well as international cooking. And I like traditional fish and chips - but from a fish and chip shop [13], not from a pub. It was interesting that we had no fish in our top five meals, although we live next to the sea.


Now let’s go from food to drink. Most of us enjoy a cup of coffee, don’t we? In the old days we liked to have a cup of coffee for breakfast at home, and then we liked to have a coffee break [14] at work – perhaps in the office cafeteria or in the café next to our office. But these days we like to drink coffee all the time – on the train, in the street walking to work, at our desk and so on. If you watch television drama these days, people like police officers or politicians or business people are always walking down the street talking and drinking coffee. And they’re drinking their coffee out of paper or cardboard mugs [15]. Well, the mugs look like they’re made out of paper or cardboard [16], and most of us throw them in the bin [17] and think that they will be recycled like newspaper or cardboard. But that isn’t true. These coffee mugs are not made simply out of paper. They have to hold hot water so they are made of a mixture of paper and plastic, and of course they have a plastic lid [18]. Also, the paper that they use has to be new paper, not recycled paper, because it is used to hold food. The main point is that these coffee mugs cannot be recycled at the moment. Some of the big coffee shop companies now use mugs that could be recycled but in Britain they aren’t because you have to have special machines to do that and we don’t have them. So in Britain at the moment we use 2.5 billion mugs every year and they are not recycled. If you want to help the environment [19], it’s better to go to a café and drink your coffee there. Have a real coffee break! And my pub quiz question this time is about another environmental problem with coffee. The government of the City of Hamburg in Germany has taken some action about this. So my question is: What does the City of Hamburg not like? What have they banned [20] from their buildings? Can you guess?


20161118 E IncantantiI went to a very special concert a couple of weeks ago. It was part of the Swiss-Welsh music exchange that I told you about before. [See Gerry’s Diary 158 and 169] This time it was a visit from the Swiss-Romansh choir [21] from Chur called Incantanti. The programme was called “Vuschs rumantschas – Lleisiau celtaidd”: “Romansh voices, Celtic voices”. I’m not sure how to pronounce the Romansh; but the other language is Welsh, of course. The Swiss choir is a young choir. Their conductor [22] is the music teacher at the school in Chur. The singers join the choir when they are at school and then continue for some years while they are studying at university or college. And they are terrific. 20161118 E Cor Aelwyd yr YnysIf you get a chance to hear them you should. The concert took place in a hotel on our island. This hotel and spa is owned by a Swiss lady, and she has helped to build this exchange between Wales and Switzerland. Also on the programme was a children’s choir from Anglesey, Côr Aelwyd yr Ynys. This is a children’s and young persons’ choir. And at this concert they had some of their youngest singers. For their part of the concert they all stood on the big stairs of the hotel – with no conductor! Their conductor was playing the piano round the corner, but they didn’t need her. The little children were fantastic – and they started with a solo by one of the little girls in the front row. She sang like a professional! You can find photos on the website.


It’s nearly the end of the show. But I must tell you that the travel guide Lonely Planet says that the top four regions in the world to visit in 2017 are Choquequirao, in the mountains of Peru; Taranaki, in New Zealand’s North Island; the Azores, Portugal’s Atlantic islands; and North Wales! So book your tickets now for next year!

Don’t forget my pub quiz question about Hamburg and coffee. You can send me your answers to the website, or you can use Twitter. My Twitter address is @gerrypod. Remember also that you can listen to me with the PodClub app, and you can find the vocabulary learning programme on the app. And you can follow me and my Podclub colleagues on Instagram. Use the hashtags #podclubgerry or #gerrysdiary. In two weeks you can hear the latest stories from Owen in China, and then I’ll be back on December 16th. Thanks for listening and take care!

[1] bonfire: a large fire that is made outside, in a garden for example
[2] fireworks: things that make coloured lights and big noises when they are lit and explode
[3] meal: here: dish, a plate of food (The word also describes what you eat at a particular time: breakfast, lunch, supper, etc.)
[4] to depend on: to be affected by
[5] survey: a set of questions that you ask in order to find out what a group of people think about something
[6] roast: (meat) cooked in the oven
[7] slice: a thin piece of something that is cut with a knife, like bread or meat
[8] roast potato: potato that is cooked in the oven in some fat or oil
[9] mash: a sort of potato puree (boiled potato that is crushed/squashed and mixed with some butter and milk)
[10] gravy: a brown sauce made with the “juice” from a big piece of roast meat
[11] stuffing: a mixture of, for example, bread and herbs that is cooked inside or with a chicken, turkey, etc.
[12] portion: part, share; here: a serving, the amount of food that one person is given to eat
[13] fish and chip shop: a place that sells fish and chips to take away and eat outside or to take home
[14] coffee break: a time when you stop work to have a cup of coffee, etc.
[15] mug: a big cup (with straight sides and no saucer)
[16] cardboard: very thick paper that is used to make packets, boxes, etc.
[17] bin: somewhere that you throw your rubbish (UK) or garbage (US)
[18] lid: top, cover
[19] environment: the natural world, the world where we live
[20] to ban: to prohibit, forbid, not allow
[21] choir: a group of singers
[22] conductor: a person who directs/controls a choir or orchestra


Debbie 05-12-2016 23:35
Hello Gerry,
the ban on coffee pods is limited to city govemment buildings and public institutions. A first step for a big change, I hope it (by the way, I wanted to buy a Nespresso machine but now I prefer to keep my old Italian coffee maker :-)
Conversation class B 05-12-2016 09:13
Hi Gerry
We had a lively disussion in our conversation class about your pub quiz question. We thought the answer had something to do with the environment: Therefore we guessed they banned the coffeepods. And now we even know how to cook Yorkshire pudding ;-)
Kind regards
Helen, Beat, Silvia, Karin, Pascal, Elsbeth and Michelle
Kurt 04-12-2016 19:42
Hi Gerry
What a coincidence!!! I have been in cornwall this summer and saw a report about the problem with the coffee cups.
it was very interesting and I think they has to do something, immediatly.
It's horrible !!!!
By the way :-)
I'm planning a trip to Liverpool next year and I would like to visit an interesting castle near Liverpool.
Is there a place witch you would recommend?
Have a good time
Aurélie 29-11-2016 16:33
Hi Gerry !
Thank you for your podcast, it's always a pleasure to listen to it.. I don't know very well British food but for sure my Swiss favourite meal is the cheese fondue... Otherwise, I have no idea about "the City of Hamburg" question... Best regards
Josiane 27-11-2016 16:03
Hi Gerry,
I thing it's forbidden for employees of the government to drink coffee capsules and they have installed water cooler to have no bottles.
Best regards
Dominique 22-11-2016 20:29
Hi Gerry,
perhaps, the dustbin are banned, so people haven't dustbin to put their rubish in the dustbin.
best regards
Marcel 21-11-2016 20:03
Thanks for the podcast.
In Hamburg (Hansestadt Hamburg), it's forbidden to officials and government employees to order Nespresso capsules. This product (packaging) is considered to be harmful to the environment!

Best regards

Käthi 18-11-2016 18:15
Hi Gerry!
Thank you for the podcast - always very interesting!
It seems that in the City of Hamburg, it's forbidden for government employees to buy at public expenses the Nespresso capsules. But not only this product is banned. Also the non-returnable bottles as well as cleaning agents containing chlorine.

Best regards