餐車式餐廳:典型的美式宵夜英文

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Diners: Americana on a Plate

Say you’re hungry for a hot meal late one evening. You want something better than assembly line fast food, but nothing too fancy—and most white tablecloth restaurants are probably closed by now anyway. You may think you’re out of options, but just as you’re about to give up, your eyes are attracted by a neon sign down the street. Inside the small building, you see customers sitting at a counter and in cozy booths, tucking into plates of hearty food. What kind of restaurant is this? That all-American institution, the diner.

The history of American diners begins in 1872, when a Rhode Island man named Walter Scott began selling inexpensive meals out of a horse-drawn wagon after most restaurants closed for the evening. The business model was such a success that by the early 20th century, food wagons were being replaced by small sit-down restaurants that sold cheap, hot meals at all hours. Because many were built to resemble dining cars on trains, people began calling them “diners.” Diners got their start in the Northeast, but by their peak in the 1950s, there were over 6,000 across the country. For busy working Americans, breakfast, lunch or dinner at a diner was the next best thing to a home-cooked meal. Diners became so much a part of the culture that they even developed their own lingo—eggs and bacon became “cluck and grunt,” and a well-done hamburger was a “hockey puck.”

So what kind of food can you find at a typical diner? Breakfast options include things like eggs, bacon, hash browns and pancakes, and lunch and dinner menus usually feature hamburgers, patty melts and club sandwiches. Menus also vary by region, with seafood available in the Northeast, biscuits and gravy in the South, and tamales in the Southwest. And while there are fewer traditional diners around now than there were in the 1950s, the diner experience can also be found at chain restaurants like Denny’s and IHOP.

餐車式餐廳:典型的美式宵夜英文

假設有天深夜,你肚子餓了,想吃頓熱騰騰的宵夜。你想要吃點比加工速食更好的料理,但也不要太高級─此時大部分高檔餐廳也應該都關門了。你可能以為別無選擇了,不過,就在你幾乎要放棄時,你的眼睛一亮,街頭的霓虹燈招牌吸引了你的注意。在一座小小的建築物中,你看到顧客坐在櫃臺邊和舒適的雅座裡,對著眼前一盤盤豐盛的美食大快朵頤。這是哪種餐廳?是典型的美式餐廳,餐車式餐廳。

美國的餐車式餐廳歷史始於1872年,當時羅德島州一位名叫華特史考特的男子開始在晚上大部分餐廳關門後,在一輛馬車上販賣平價餐點。這樣的經營模式是如此成功,以致到了二十世紀初時,拉馬餐車變成有座位的小餐館,全天販賣便宜的熱食。由於其中許多小餐館是仿照火車裡的餐車建造的,因此大家開始稱它們為「餐車式餐廳」。餐車式餐廳是從東北部開始的,在1950年代達到顛峰時,全美各地共有六千多家餐車式餐廳。對工作忙碌的美國人來說,早餐、中餐或晚餐在餐車式餐廳解決,是僅次於在家吃家常菜的好選擇。餐車式餐廳徹底融入流行文化,甚至發展出自己的行話─蛋和培根變成「咯咯和齁齁」,全熟的漢堡又稱為「冰球」。

在典型的餐車式餐廳中你能吃到什麼餐點?早餐的選擇包括蛋、培根、薯餅和鬆餅。午餐和晚餐的菜單通常有漢堡、起司漢堡排三明治和總匯三明治等。菜單也因地區而異,東北部會有海鮮,南部會有比司吉佐肉醬,西南部有肉餡玉米粽。比起1950年代,現在的傳統餐車式餐廳已不多,但在丹尼斯和國際鬆餅屋一類的連鎖餐廳,依舊可以體驗到餐車式餐廳。

【實用字彙】

neon (n.) 霓虹燈
cozy (a.) 舒適的,愜意的
tuck (into) (v.) (口語)大口吃
institution (n.) 某地重要的、眾所周知的事物(如傳統等)

本文取材自《開口吃遍USA 美國食用英語:EZ TALK總編嚴選特刊

(本文授權刊登自EZTALK編輯部)

圖片來源:pixabay

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