This series of Everyday Conversations is about a family traveling to each of the 50 states in the U.S. Join the family members as they learn about local pastimes and history. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, the family visits a restaurant in South Carolina.


Waiter: May I take your order, or do you need a few more minutes?

Gina: I think we’re ready.

Claudine: What exactly is the she-crab soup?

Waiter: It’s a regional specialty from the South Carolina low country. It’s a thick soup made from cream, crab meat and crab roe.

Claudine: That sounds delicious. I’ll have that and the mac and cheese, please.

Waiter: That’s good Southern comfort food.

Sam: That sounds good! I’ll have the same.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

May I take your order? is a common question asked by waiters. It is used to ask the customers, or diners, if they are ready to order food. Other ways to ask this same question are: Are you ready to order? and Can I take your order?

In a restaurant, a waiter may ask the customers do you need a few more minutes? This is used to know whether the waiter should take the customer’s order now or come back to the table later to take the order.

The question starter What exactly is …? is used to ask for more clarification. When asked by a customer in a restaurant, it means that the customer wants to know what ingredients are in a dish.

A regional specialty means a special dish or food from a specific area.

The low country is a geographical and cultural region along the coast of South Carolina.

A crab is a sea creature that has a hard shell, eight legs and two large claws.

Crab roe is the eggs of a crab.

Using the phrase I’ll have … is a way to order in a restaurant. Another way to order using the verb have is Could I have … For example, Could I have the fish, please?

Mac and cheese, short for macaroni and cheese, is a dish made of cooked macaroni and a cheese sauce that consists of cheese, milk and butter.

Comfort food is food that is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds the person eating it of his or her family, friends or home.

In a restaurant, the phrase I’ll have the same is a way to order the same thing as the previous person without repeating the names.

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