Eat up!

GourmetWhen someone says to a child, “Eat up!” they mean “Hurry up and eat!”  This may happen if the child is taking a long time to eat or is playing instead of eating the way he or she should.  I heard my own parents say this to me many times when I was a child, and it is quite common in most American families to say this, especially if the family is getting ready to leave and a child is still eating.

ESL Podcast #477 is about making a gourmet or high-quality meal, usually for a formal occasion.  Certainly if you are enjoying good food, you don’t want to “hurry up.”  But the truth is that Americans seem to eat more rapidly than people in most other countries.  A recent article in the New York Times provided the average amount of time people spend eating each day (all meals combined) for several different countries, and the results are very interesting: Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans spend the least amount of time eating among the countries surveyed – less than 75 minutes on average each day.  The French, Japanese, Italians, and Spanish spend the most time eating.  Here are some of the countries, from most time spent eating to least time spent (times are approximate):

  • France –  135 minutes
  • Japan – 118 minutes
  • Italy – 115 minutes
  • Spain – 103 minutes
  • Germany – 101 minutes
  • Great Britain – 82 minutes
  • Norway – 80 minutes
  • United States – 75 minutes
  • Canada – 70 minutes
  • Mexico – 65 minutes

Why are there such differences?  No doubt there are cultural explanations for why Americans eat so quickly.  I suppose the “slow eating” countries would say that they have better food, which may be true.  I know whenever I cook a meal, I eat it as quickly as possible, because it always tastes terrible!


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18 Responses to Eat up!

  1. emiliano says:

    Well I don’t know the reason as you said above but now that I am cooking all meals at home I know perfectly well if some meal is good cooking by the time my wife spend eating it.

    The less time the more she likes the meal, she acts like a child about the meals but for me is a clue to know
    if she is pleased or not despite what she tell me about the meal.

    What I have to say also is that she never complains about my cooking because she is very nice and was a cooker before and knows about the feeling of all the house cooker of the world.

    Jeff, don’t tell us you are a bad cooker……I know you are a good one.

  2. Peter says:

    I don’t know. But, don’t you think- the complexity of a society plays a decisive part in shaping people eatting patterns?

  3. inma says:

    Hello everybody!

    The difference it’s that in my case like Spaniard we have a particular way to enjoy the food. I suppose that French and Italian are very similar in this. We eat in family, talking about our day and without any rush. And after the meal it’s coffee time and it means a long time relaxing and talking.

    I live in USA now, here people grab his or her food and eat it in front of the computer. I only eat in family here in special day like Christmas or Thanksgiving.
    Maybe I have a very weird family and the rest of families eat together but it has been my experience.

  4. The llouker says:

    That’s because the fast food requires for some hurry!


  5. Tania says:

    Hi ! Too cruel dr. Jeff to tell us about food . And our diet with cereals , yogurt/biphidus , cheese , fruit and moving ? And to eat slowly , slowly …
    I am angry with you because I am hungry. I joke . And the mouthwatering French food … without the danger to be fat …
    In every big town from my country there is a Mc Donald’s . Oh ! At last we can know the American life …
    Unfortunately , very dangerous for our health . Only the delectable ice cream and a kind of vegetables salad are very good but all very expensive for
    our salary level .
    You explain us very clearly and concise the means of : dishe – course – meal , the taste buds (sweet , salty , bitter , sour ) and the French words .
    Thank you .

    All the best for you all and enjoy with a big , big meal . Don’t forget to eat slowly !


  6. Tania says:

    Hi , again ! I apologize for I joke – I am joking .

    Thank you for the new maintenance . You all are so kind …

    Best regards ,


  7. gregorex says:

    Maybe it depends on how big family is in particular country. If the family is big, as you once said, you have to eat up quick, otherwise you’ll be hungry 😉

  8. elcomandant says:

    Right now, in 30 minutes, my wife and I are going to go to have dinner to a very good restaurant with five good friends.

    In this restaurant there are very good meats and fishes and several good spanish wine too.

    You can be sure that we take about three hours to finish, because we eat a good dessert and spanish coffe.

    I’m sorry but I have to stop to write because I have to go if I don’t want to be late.

    See you.

  9. Peter says:

    When people are time deprived, they must eat faster.So culture does not play a major role my friend but the pace of life.You know what I mean

  10. emiliano says:

    Being more serious now I think that our mediterranean style of life have something to do with our meal customs and yes, we take our time to eat at lunch or dinner. Even breakfast has now to me its long long time as we use to talk just a lot meanwhile we are at the table.

    Along my life never in a hurry to have the meals and always enjoying the meals and the company what is even more important that the food.
    Years ago we use to go to my parent’s country house and we met over there with my two sisters, their childrem, mine, Cuca and my father and mamy. Just as elcomandt says we spent two or three hours sitting at the table, talking, laughing and eating of course.
    A black coffe afterward that my father always did was extremely important, some cognac good talking and all was great. We all were happy doing these long long meals and for us that moments were the most important reminders of our lives.

    I always remind my father, mamy, children, beautiful wife and relatives all around the table, so Yes we Spaniards spend a long long time eating.
    That is our way of living the best moments of life.

  11. Peter says:

    Sometimes we spend a remarkable amount of time eatting simply because we have holllow legs. It is funny,but somehow true

  12. dini says:

    hello for all people who listens eslpodcasts …

    i heard about the about a year ago and for that time everyday i listen 2 or 3 podcasts and read this blog every day … and i have a big request for you JEFF and LUCY if you would be kind to change your blog font to that font in your main page . my reason for my request is that when i read the blog i use a dictionary program named ” mobimouse ” which is helping me to translate the new words in the page by moving the mouse cursor on the new word and that feature isn’t working here in the blog section

    i also mention that my English knowledge one year ago it was very poor having trouble to understand some podcasts and besides the listening task i also started to read every day some grammar topics from grammar books which lead me in this state of knowledge 🙂

    i hope everybody uses this webpage like i do to be better in English every day

    thank you

  13. emiliano says:

    Hi dini,
    I would like to say you that is not necessary to have a dictionary program to translate the words you need to, as if you have the google bar in your computer there is an option in it that translates all the words from English to the lenguage you want to moving the cursor the way you do.

    You need the google bar and having it open the figure where is a monkey wrench, there you have the options, open it and go to tools, open tools and point “translate” and mark you own lenguage.

    That is enough to translate all English words, even if you are reading the blog you’ll have the translation of all our bad writings. One of my friend did it always as she said it is difficult to figure out all the words.

    If you need something more help, please tell me.
    Sorry me taking part but I know it can be very usefull to every one.
    Greetings and welcome.

  14. Peter says:

    I am wondering how Japenese has come second top on the list. As far as I know ,Japan is an,or better to say the only ultra advanced country. The economic development in this industrialised, refurbished(renovated) country has made the pace of life so speedy that does not allow people to allocate that amount of time just chow down(eat).No offence, but It seems rubbish.

  15. Elisângelo says:

    Hi everyone…. it’s been so long that I haven’t access the eslblog…. as the summertime come down to the season, we are going to get busy day week after week and so on.

    I really enjoy a lot to read every single posted by my blog mates…. all those comments are very good and interesting…. Jeff and lucy also lift up good topic wich make this blog keep it always like a state of art outstanding place for learning english language.

    Well, in Brasil we also usually appreciate our food by taking so long to eating. For example, I learning with my mom to appreciate every single chicken’s bone by sucking up the juice inside of it after eat all the meat of the bones off. I think that’s because we use a good portion of salt when we are preparing the meals….. then after well cooking, it taste so good that we go down tasting that delicious meat until we realize the we are sucking up the bones already……rsrsrsrsr.


    best regards to all of you little fellows….

  16. Elisângelo says:

    dini….. emiliano did help you out by giving you some clues about the google’s bar… well, now that the internet explorer 8 is available for free, you can download it and enjoy it by finding out how good and useful are all of its new features. one of those features has to do with your necessary by translating any word at the pagine to whatever it is the language you need by double clicking on the word and browsing inside the float menu….

    good luck in your studing….

  17. mohammad says:

    i have heard that french people spend a lot of times to eat.but i didnt know such a difference between france and other countries. they should learn from france.

  18. dini says:

    thank you for your advice , i will try it … 🙂 i hope the translate option in the google bar has hungarian or romanian language too , now i am almoust a three language speaker :))

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