Food – Snacks and food on the go

Photo by Scott Eckersley on Unsplash

Powered by RedCircle

In this podcast, I describe four snacks or light meals that you might find in the UK and talk about the interesting language as I go.

At the bottom of the page, there’s a language activity and a task for you to complete in the comments section.


Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

This is the second in a series of three podcasts that look at different foods and vocabulary you need to talk about food. In the first podcast, I spoke about some popular meals in the UK. In this podcast, I’m going to talk about some snacks or food you might grab if you are away from your house and in the third podcast, I’ll talk about some sweets or desserts. 

These podcasts are vocabulary support for a new conversation class on English Focus for B1 and more advanced learners. 

If you are interested in joining the class, send me a message at and I’ll share the course details. Some of you will know that I have been working on English Focus for a long time. This conversation course is the first course that I’m running so it’s still in beta and will be very cheap. 

The course is 6 classes and the first class is about food. In the class, I want learners to be able to talk about food. As well as knowing the names for different foods, it’s important to know how to talk about how the food is made and what the ingredients are and to say when and where you might eat different foods and of course to be able to say what it tastes like. 

In this podcast, I’m talking about snacks and foods you can buy to eat on the go. So these are the sorts of things you can grab between meals if you’re feeling a bit hungry or for a light lunch. 

OK. Here’s the first food.

The first food item is like a pie, only it’s long and made from one piece of pastry that’s wrapped around a meat and potato filling. Traditionally, they contain beef, potato, swede, onion and salt and pepper. When I lived away from the UK, they were the food I missed the most. 

Do you know what food I’m describing?

I’ve just described a Cornish pasty. These are called Cornish pasties because they come from Cornwall which is a county in the far South West of England. They are common all over the UK. If you come to the UK, look out for a little bakery and see if they have any. There are chain food stalls that serve them and they are not bad, but the best ones that I’ve ever had have been from small bakeries.

Pastry is made by mixing cold butter and plain flour and a pinch of salt, then bringing it together with water or an egg so it forms a dough that can be rolled into sheets and then shaped to make the outside of a pie or the base of a quiche. There are other types of pastry. Puff pastry is light and made of lots of layers and filo pastry is very thin. You can add sugar and make a sweet pastry for mince pies and jam tarts. I love pastry, but have to limit how often I cook it because it’s not very good for you.

I used the word filling to talk about the food inside the pastry. It’s quite an odd noun. Whatever we use to fill a food item is called the filling. So you might hear about a steak and kidney filling for a pie or a cream and jam filling for a cake.

A bakery is a business that makes and sells bread and other baked goods. There are not that many independent bakeries these days. You can still find them and usually the bread is really good. Otherwise, lots of supermarkets have bakeries in them, but they are just part of the supermarket. My local supermarket bakes bread and sweet things in the store, but they are all prepared somewhere else. They bake them in the store because the smell of freshly baked bread makes people buy more bread. 

OK. The next food item is a boiled egg, encased in sausage meat and rolled in bread crumbs. When they are cooked, they are about the same size as cricket balls, maybe a little bigger. I love to eat them with a little hot English mustard. 

Do you know what food I’m describing?

The answer is a Scotch egg. These tasty snacks have controversial origins. Some people claim they were invented in Whitby by a restaurant owned by a Mr Scott. Others claim they were invented in a fancy department store in London. And they are very similar to foods from Africa and there’s a meal from India that looks like the same thing. I’m not really interested in the origins as they are not that complicated so could easily have been invented by more than one person. The only thing that is interesting is they are not from Scotland which is what most people believe.

I really like mustard. English mustard should be hot. It’s not spicy like chillies, it’s more like Japanese wasabi. It can make your eyes and nose run and can sort of stun you for a moment if you try to eat too much. But it passes quickly. When I lived in Jakarta, for my first few months, my Indonesian colleagues seemed amused by my reaction to very spicy Indonesian food. So I had some mustard shipped out and offered some around. And my colleagues all fled to the bathroom to rinse their mouths. It’s not spicy, but we still say it’s hot. It’s a different type of heat. 

The next food item is another food I missed when I lived away from the UK. This is a small round pastry shaped like a shallow cylinder filled with cured meat that’s eaten cold. It’s quite hard to describe without saying the name because the name is quite descriptive. It’s salty and goes really well with English mustard. 

Do you know what food I’m describing?

The answer is a pork pie. I never really liked these when I was a kid because sometimes, they have pork fat that sets to form a jelly. I used to hate that when I was little, but now, with a smear of mustard, it’s delicious

If you cure meat, you preserve it. That is, you treat it so that it doesn’t go bad. You can cure meat and fish by drying it or salting it or smoking it. There are lots of types of cured pork. Ham is one type of cured pork. In the UK, it’s normally made by boiling gammon, but traditional Spanish and Italian ham is cured with salt. 

I said that a pork pie with a smear of mustard is delicious. This is an extreme adjective so you can’t use the modifier very. You can say that something is very nice, very tasty but if you want to make the word delicious even stronger, you have to say really delicious or absolutely delicious. 

The last snack I want to talk about is just one of a massive variety of its type. So … this snack is a type of sliced cured pork, placed between two slices of bread. You can find all kinds of these with different fillings. I really quite enjoy a good home made one of these, but find the sight of the prepacked versions for sale as part of meal deals in shops in towns and stations quite depressing. 

Do you know what food I’m describing?

The answer is a bacon sandwich. I prefer crispy streaky bacon, but back bacon is more common here. And Like all salty pork products, I think it goes best with a good dollop of English mustard. 

I think that the word snack is quite common, it’s listed as an A2 item, but it’s quite strange. I looked it up and it derives from Old Norse so may have made its way into English when the vikings were … visiting. It comes from a word meaning bite so a snack is a bite. We do sometimes describe small food items as light bites and the little items that are served at parties are called nibbles. A nibble is a little bite. It’s also a verb so you might nibble on light bite.

The word sandwich is curious. It’s just bread, usually two slices with a filling. So you can have a cheese sandwich or a ham sandwich. The reason the word is interesting is it comes from John Montagu who was the 4th earl of sandwich. Apparently, he always asked for his food served between slices of bread because he loved playing cards so much, he wanted something he could eat at the gaming table. He didn’t invent the sandwich, people have been eating bread and filling it for hundreds of years, but somehow, the word sandwich became associated with this food and it stuck. These days, you can find lots of different sandwiches packed for lunch in high street shops in the UK. They are very convenient and easy to eat, but they are not great food. A homemade sandwich with good bread and fresh ingredients, like some nice crispy bacon is lovely. 

OK – so that’s 4 snacks that you can try if you come to the UK. Three of them have pork in them so I’m sorry about that if you are a Muslim and they all have meat in them so I’m sorry about that if you’re a vegetarian.

At the end of the week, I’m going to talk about 4 desserts you should find if you come to the UK. The language from these podcasts is all for the vocabulary input for an intermediate conversation course on English Focus. If you are interested in joining the course send me an email at and I’ll send you the course details.

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. As always, I love reading your comments so please leave me a comment on the site or a rating or a review on Apple podcasts. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have. Thank you also to those of you that have bought me a coffee or left me a tip. I really appreciate it.

If you are interested in joining my beta conversation course please do get in touch or if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you so please visit and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

Vocabulary Activity


Describe a traditional smack from your country.

  • What does it taste like?
  • What is it made from?
  • How is it prepared?
  • Where and when do you eat it?

Leave your description in the comments section below.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment

I accept the Privacy Policy