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Celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S.

November 10, 2018

Halloween has passed, the daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter, and the weather has turned colder. Every American knows that this means one very important thing: Thanksgiving is coming! Many students are curious about the origins and the traditions of Thanksgiving and we are happy to share this information with them.

The Origins of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday (although it is also celebrated in Canada) and is held on the fourth Thursday of every November. The holiday was started when 53 American settlers (called Pilgrims) had a big feast with 90 Native Americans to celebrate the Pilgrims’ safe journey over the Atlantic Ocean. The holiday has been an official country tradition since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln named the day an official American holiday.

Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey

A typical Thanksgiving meal! Green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, turkey with cranberry sauce, and rolls.

Thanksgiving Foods

The main tradition of Thanksgiving is the large meal. What is served? It depends on the house! Each family has different recipes and traditions for Thanksgiving dinner, but here are some staples that you will probably see at most Thanksgiving tables:

Turkey

Most Americans choose to eat a large, roasted turkey for Thanksgiving. It is also popular to serve at Christmastime.

If the celebration is really big, then some families will also serve another meat, like ham or beef.

Stuffing

A mixture of bread, herbs, and spices is stuffed into the turkey. After the turkey is finished cooking, the stuffing is scooped out and served in a separate bowl. It is very juicy and flavorful!

Dressing

Some families also choose to have “dressing”, which is like stuffing but is not baked inside the turkey. Instead, it is cooked in a separate dish. Dressing is a little more dry than stuffing because it does not have the juices from the turkey.

Mashed Potatoes

Everyone loves mashed potatoes! Many families also make a gravy from the bits of turkey that fell onto the bottom of the roasting pan.

Cranberry Sauce

This tart fruit sauce is a great addition to the very mild flavor of turkey (and is really good on bread rolls).

Yams

Many families serve yams, which look like orange potatoes and are very sweet. An old recipe that some families still use requires you to bake the yams with marshmallows, which makes the dish even sweeter.

It is a joke in many families that some family members REALLY hate yams . . . but do not be discouraged: try them! You might be one of the people who loves this sweet dish.

Green Beans/Green Bean Casserole

Some serve green beans, which can be cooked many different ways: boiled, sauteed, or cooked into a casserole. The recipes vary! For green bean casserole, a layer of green beans are mixed with mushrooms and a thick, white sauce or soup: the mixture is topped with fried onions and baked. The result is a crunchy, sweet top and then soft green beans underneath.

Pumpkin Pie

This delicious pie MUST be served at each Thanksgiving table! Make sure to top your slice of pie with some whipped cream. Most families also serve another dessert, like apple pie, for dessert.

 

Photo from Macy’s.com. Photo originally from Business Wire.

Thanksgiving Traditions

Just like the menu, the traditions of each family are different at Thanksgiving. Many families watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is on television in the morning, to see celebrities sing and dance on beautifully decorated floats. Most families also take time to talk about what they are thankful for before the meal is eaten.

Another Thanksgiving tradition is Black Friday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and it is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many American wake up VERY early (sometimes at 2 or 3 in the morning!) to get to the stores early and take advantage of the incredible sales. The last few years, these sales have also been online, so recently a lot of families have chosen to stay at home and sleep in . . . and then shop in the comfort of their pajamas on Friday morning.

As a backlash to this consumer-related “tradition,” people began “Small Business Saturday.” In this shopping day, customers visit only the small, local shops and support these businesses rather than the large corporations that dominate Black Friday.

The newest “tradition” is “Cyber Monday,” where many stores offer online shopping deals. What will Tuesday be named? Only time will tell . . .

 

California Life Dining Featured San Francisco

San Francisco Mission District Dining Guide

October 25, 2018

“There is no better food neighborhood in America than San Francisco’s Mission District.” -Paolo Lucchesi, San Francisco Chronicle  

San Francisco’s Mission District is known for its restaurants, art, shops, culture, and Latino/Latina history. If you live in the Bay Area, then a trip to the Mission District isn’t just a one-time experience: it’s something you do again and again! Try the dishes on this list, which includes new favorites and old classics.

Mission District Dining Guide

Mission District Dining Guide

Classic Mission District Dishes

Try these classic Mission District dishes; these are all from restaurants that have been in the Mission District for many years:

Latino/a Mission District Dishes

The Mission District is known for its Latino/a culture and history, so it’s no surprise that it is also where the Mission Burrito (a classic California burrito) was created. Read our article about Northern California vs. Southern California burritos to learn more about this! You can always get a burrito in the Mission District, but don’t forget that you can also find delicious foods from many Latino/a cultures: the area has Mexican, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian restaurants that serve delicious and traditional cuisine:

Mission District Dining Guide

Mission District Street Vendor Dishes

Street vendors are an important part of the Mission District culture. Here are some of their specialties:

 

Dining Featured San Diego

Best Burritos in San Diego

August 7, 2018

Best Burritos in San Diego

If you come to San Diego and don’t eat a burrito, did you really experience San Diego? The city is famous for its Mexican food and has some of the most delicious burritos.

Best Burritos in San Diego

Best California Burrito:

The California burrito is probably the most famous burrito in Southern California. A California burrito has carne asada (beef), guacamole, cheese, and potatoes or French fries. It’s difficult to find a “bad” California burrito, but some restaurants provide the perfect ratio of meat, cheese, potatoes, and guacamole.

Winner: Nico’s California Burrito. This burrito was ranked the #2 Burrito in the United States by The Daily Meal and #1 Burrito in San Diego in a poll of local surfers.

via GIPHY

Nico’s
4918 Newport Avenue
Ocean Beach
No website
Note: Nico’s is cash only!

 

Best Breakfast Burrito:

The breakfast burrito is not just a breakfast staple: it can be enjoyed all day! A classic breakfast burrito has scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, and either bacon, sausage or, chorizo.

Winner: Roberto’s Hashbrown Breakfast Burrito

via GIPHY

Roberto’s Taco Shop
Locations throughout San Diego
No website

 

Best Seafood Burrito:

San Diego has delicious seafood, so it makes sense that there are seafood burritos throughout the city. Try a shrimp burrito or a fish burrito: if you’re really fancy, try a lobster burrito. Most often, these burritos come with a “white sauce” that is light and not too spicy. It’s delicious and very “San Diego.”

Winner: Lucha Libre’s Taco Shop’s Surfin’ California Burrito combines carne asada and shrimp with house-made French fries, avocado, cheese, pico de gallo, sliced avocado, and a secret chipotle sauce. It’s delicious, smoky, and a perfect “surf and turf” combination.  

via GIPHY

Lucha Libre Taco Shop
1810 W. Washington Street (Mission Hills)
3016 University Avenue (North Park)

 

Best Healthy Burrito:

Yes, burritos can be healthy . . . when they are made from lighter tortillas and fresh sauces. In fact, in San Diego you will probably see burritos on many restaurant menus! There are now gluten-free burrito options and even vegan options for those who choose to eat vegan or gluten free (or who need to for health reasons).

Winner: Cafe Gratitude’s SF Mission Burrito has mushroom carnitas, adobo sauce, cashew nacho cheese, black beans, brown rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, and tortilla chips for crunch. Delicious . . . and vegan!

via GIPHY

Cafe Gratitude
980 Kettner Blvd
Little Italy

 

Best Fusion Burrito:

Fusion dishes combine the flavors or food styles of two different cuisines: check out our article on fusion food for a description of this cooking style. Burritos are an easy food to make into a fusion dish: in San Diego, the burrito/sushi combination is quite popular.

Winner: Pokirrito serves the Maui Sunrise: glazed teriyaki chicken with fried ginger, iceberg lettuce, cubed avocado, red bell pepper, lotus chips, tempura flakes, sweet chili sauce. Yum!

via GIPHY

Pokirrito
2254 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

 

California Life Dining Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego

SD Beach Barbecue Guide + BBQ Idioms in English

May 7, 2017

San Diego is famous for its beaches, but few students take advantage of the many facilities the beaches offer! Did you know that you can have a barbecue on many of San Diego’s beaches? Some even have barbecue pits for you to use. Check out our SD beach barbecue guide before organizing a trip with your CISL friends. Cheers!

SD Beach Barbecue Guide

#1: Choose a beach

Which beach will you choose to BBQ? Coronado? La Jolla? Read our Guide to San Diego’s Beaches for an idea of the facilities each beach has (and to learn the personality of each beach) and then choose the one that’s perfect for your beach day!

Make sure that you research the beach’s facilities and hours before planning your trip: the San Diego City website lists all of the offerings for each beach, including if the beach is accessible by public transport, if there are public restrooms, and if barbecues and fires are allowed.

#2: Grab some friends

Who is coming with you? Make sure you plan in advance so that you know how much food you will need! When planning how to arrive, consider all of your public transportation options: read our Public Transportation in San Diego article for useful information.

#3: Buy the supplies

What will you need to buy for the perfect barbecue? For a BBQ, you are going to need the following:

  • Coals
  • A lighter (to set fire to the coals)
  • Utensils for grilling (tongs and spatula)
  • Plates, napkins, cups, forks, knives, etc. (plastic: no glass allowed at the beaches or parks)
  • Food! Sausages? Burgers?
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
  • Drinks
  • A cooler to keep the drinks cold

Be sure to research if the beach has picnic benches; if not, grab a blanket to sit on while you eat!

#4: Plan the rest of the day 

What will you do afterwards? Maybe play some beach volleyball? Perhaps go swimming? Check out our article for some Beach Activity Ideas (and beach-related vocabulary). Make sure you come prepared . . . and don’t forget the sunscreen!

BBQ Idioms in English 

When we think of barbecues, we think of burgers, fire (and smoke), and good times! These idioms are related to the foods and items you might have at a beach BBQ.

After meat, mustard

Definition:phrase emphasizing that something has come too late to be useful (like mustard being offered . . . after meat has already been eaten)

Example: (Student): I just completed my extra credit! (Teacher): And I’ve just submitted the final grades. After meat, mustard.

To be in a pickle

Definition: experiencing a difficult situation

Example: I can’t decide between going to Balboa Park museums or going to the beach. I’m in such a pickle!

Cut the mustard

Definition: satisfactory or right for the situation or expectations

Example: What do you think about my final paper? Does it cut the mustard?

To go up in flames

Definition 1: burn up completely

Example: They watched the house go up in flames.

Definition 2: [for value or investment] to be lost suddenly and totally

Example: After they lost their main investor, they were afraid the project would go up in flames.

To grill someone (about something)

Definition: to question or interrogate someone intensely and relentlessly (about something)

Example: The manager really grilled me during my interview, but I got the job!

Holy smoke!

Definition: what a surprise!

Example: You got the job? Holy smoke!

To rake someone over the coals

Definition: to scold someone

Example: They raked the politician over the coals for lying.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Definition: a saying meaning “there’s always some reason for a rumor.”

Example: I knew there was a problem with the company after the two managers quit. When there’s smoke, there’s fire.

 

Dining Featured San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods

Food/Drink-related Countable AND Uncountable Nouns + Little Italy Coffee Shops

March 1, 2017

Countable and uncountable nouns: what are they, and why are they important? Read on to learn about these two categories and discover some words that can be both countable and uncountable nouns . . . like the word “coffee.” Then learn about some of San Diego, Little Italy’s coolest coffee shops!

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns refer to things that can be counted. (This means that we usually add an “s”  or “es” to the noun when it is plural.)

  • banana/bananas
  • cloud/clouds
  • beach/beaches

Sometimes, the plural form is irregular.

  • man/men
  • woman/women
  • child/children
  • mouse/mice

Why is it important to categorize countable and uncountable nouns? With countable nouns, we can use “a” or “an” in front of the word. With uncountable nouns, this is not the case.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, and therefore do not have a different word for a plural form.

Many abstract nouns are uncountable:

  • happiness
  • honesty
  • thankfulness

Other countable nouns are not abstract:

  • water
  • coffee
  • flour
  • milk
  • rice
  • butter

However, we can use “a” or “an” with these nouns if we turn these nouns into something that can be divided into elements (and therefore counted). Then we use the form “a (something) of (noun)”:

  • a glass of water
  • a cup of coffee
  • a teaspoon of flour
  • a pint of milk
  • a grain of rice
  • a pat/stick of butter

Words that are both countable and uncountable nouns

Some words can be both countable and uncountable nouns. As we are focusing on coffee today, the nouns listed below are also nouns related to food and drink. Enjoy!

beer

  • Countable definition: a glass of beer
    • Two beers, please.
  • Uncountable definition: a beverage made with water and hops
    • I don’t like the taste of beer.

bread

  • Countable definition: particular types of bread
    • They offer many breads at the local bakery, including sourdough and rye.
  • Uncountable definition: a food made from grains
    • People who are gluten-free don’t eat bread.

cheese

  • Countable definition: particular types of cheese
    • How many cheeses did you buy for the cheese plate?
  • Uncountable definition: a dairy food
    • Cheese is my favorite food.

coffee

  • Countable definition: cups of coffee
    • I ordered two coffees while I was waiting for my friend to join me.
  • Uncountable definition: the drink made from roasted coffee beans
    • I drink coffee every morning.

dessert

  • Countable definition: a particular type of dessert food
    • Did you see all of the desserts they offer?
  • Uncountable definition: the food eaten at the end of a meal (usually it is sweet)
    • Would you like some dessert?

food

  • Countable definition: different types of food
    • Are you allergic to any foods?
  • Uncountable definition: the things we eat
    • Want to get some food?

fruit

  • Countable definition: particular types of fruit
    • She puts a lot of different fruits in her smoothies. They’re delicious!
    • What fruits are low in sugar?
  • Uncountable definition: the part of a tree or plant that can be eaten and contains seeds
    • Sometimes we eat fruit for dessert.

jam

  • Countable definition: different types of jams
    • What types of jams do you have for toast?
  • Uncountable definition: preserved fruit, usually put on toast
    • I don’t like strawberry jam.

juice

  • Countable definition: different types of juices; glasses of juice
    • How many juices did you drink this morning?
    • Two orange juices, please.
  • Uncountable definition: the liquid from fruits, plants, or other foods
    • I don’t like orange juice with pulp.
    • Have you ever had pineapple juice?

meat

  • Countable definition: different types of meat
    • He made three different meats for the BBQ.
  • Uncountable definition: animals eaten as food
    • Do you eat meat or are you a vegetarian?

salad

  • Countable definition: types of salad
    • I made three salads for the picnic.
  • Uncountable definition: a food made with vegetables (usually lettuce) with a dressing
    • Did you eat your salad?

sugar

  • Countable definition: a particular type of sugar or measurements of sugar (such as a packet of sugar)
    • How many (packets of) sugar do you put in your coffee?
  • Uncountable definition: the sweet crystals made from plants such as sugar cane or beets
    • We don’t eat a lot of sugar during the week, so it’s OK if we eat cake on Sunday.

tea

  • Countable definition: different types of tea; cups of tea
    • I had three teas today.
    • How many teas does that local shop sell?
  • Uncountable definition: a drink made from hot water and dried plants
    • Do you have any green tea?

wine

  • Countable definition: different types of wine
    • They have so many wines at that store down the street!
  • Uncountable definition: a drink made from fermented fruit (usually grapes)
    • Did you know that the Romans made wine throughout Europe?

Coffee Shops in San Diego’s Little Italy

San Diego’s Little Italy is a beautiful neighborhood; in fact, it was voted the best Little Italy in the U.S., and it was also named one of the best U.S. neighborhoods to live in! CISL San Diego students have the option of living in Little Italy and staying in the Vantaggio residence. When living in Little Italy, be sure to check out some of the cool coffee shops in the area!

Bird Rock Roasters

Countable and uncountable nouns

The Little Italy location is the newest store for this popular local coffee shop, which roasts its own award-winning beans and brews delicious pour-over coffees. Sip a cup and watch the planes fly overhead: the shop is located in the flight path for the San Diego airport. And be sure to try the Kenyan Peaberry: it’s won more awards than Meryl Streep has Oscars!

Heartsleeves Coffee

Countable and uncountable nouns

This hidden gem is just behind Piazza Basilone, which is a beautiful square with a fountain located on India and Fir Streets. Grab a cup and then explore the adorable shops that are located on the Fir Cottage strip: each boutique is a home once owned by local Italian fishermen, and each is decorated in beautiful colors and offers unique gifts, home decor, and clothing.

James Coffee Co.

Countable and uncountable nouns

Head to Northern Little Italy for James Coffee Co: the space is part coffee shop, part industrial space, and part home to other independent stores such as barber shops, bike shops, and stores featuring local artists. It’s fun, inventive, and a great place to do some studying and shopping!

Lofty Coffee

Countable and uncountable nouns

Little Italy’s newest coffee shop is the second location for this company, which has a popular shop in North County (and whose business just merged with Bird Rock Roasters)! This urban coffee shop on the corner of Cedar and Columbia offers breakfast and lunch items that use local and organic ingredients. Check it out and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Want to learn more about coffee? Check out CISL’s article about The Best Coffee Shops in SF.

All photos from each coffee shop’s Facebook page.