Unit 2: Taste
Innocent Blood by P.D. James
The topic of this unit is taste. The focus is mainly on food, but the unit also looks at the concept of good taste in terms of socially acceptable behaviour.
Yes, but apart from chicken curry what kind of food do the British eat? Find out about it in the Guardian's three-week series investigating the food they eat.
Eating out in London? Then you cannot miss this website to choose your restaurant and make your reservation, you will even be able to have a look at the menu. Feeling peckish already?
Quiz. Do you know modern manners?
Read the following extract. Spot the nominal phrases, underline the head of each one of them and classify the structures used by the writer to modify the nouns. Pay attention to the order of adjectives and other modifiers (other nouns, partitives, prepositional phrases, relative clauses, participial ones, etc). Fronting is when you start a sentence with something other than the subject. You use it for dramatic effect. What examples of 'fronting' can you find in the text?
Saturday was market day in Mell Street. By nine o'clock the police van had arrived, the barriers had been dragged out and were in place and the street was closed to through traffic. It was a small, intimate, bustling market, cosmopolitan but at the same time very English. The bargaining was carried out with humour and good nature, and occasionally in the old money. Early in the morning the seller of second-hand rugs and carpets wheeled up his great wooden barrow and patterned the road with his wares. Unregarding and unrebuked, the shoppers walked over them. The tarmac itself became festive. Later the market took on something of the atmosphere of an eastern souk when the brass-seller arrived to set out his jangling pots, and a Pakistani who sold cheap jewellery hung across his stall a swinging curtain of wooden beads. On the material stall lengths of brightly patterned cloth were spun from the great bales; the vendors of fruit and vegetables, fish and plants, meat and kitchenware bawled out their wares; the air was sickly with the smell from the hot-dog stall; and at a corner of the street a thin gentle-faced boy wearing a button, 'Jesus loves me', patiently held out his pamphlets to the unregarding crowd.
Behind the stalls were the small shops; the old-fashioned draper where one could still buy woolen combinations and sleeved vests, and where the pink lace-up corsets hung in the window, their strings dangling; the Greek delicatessen smelling of syrup and sharp Mediterranean wine; the small general store, clean, sweet-smelling, perpetually dark, with a bell on the door where old Mrs Davies shuffled in from the shadows to serve them with milk, butter and tea; the larger of the half-dozen junk shops whose cluttered interior they would penetrate through to a back yard piled with old furniture and fitted along one wall with racks where a miscellany of crockery, pans and pictures offered the chance of a find. Here it was they uncovered two uncracked cups, one early Worcester, one Staffordshire, with chipped but matching saucers, and an agreeably shaped grime-covered dish which, after washing, was revealed as blue and white seventeenth-century Swansea pottery. It was like playing at housekeeping; the re-enactment of the innocent childhood games which neither of them had known.
Excerpt from Innocent Blood by P.D. James
Need more practice? Then, you can do the same with this other text.
It's midnight in the Mustafa Hotel. Stetson-wearing American mercenaries clad in combat fatigues and armed to the teeth are downing whisky like there's no tomorrow. Alongside them are glassy-eyed builders in steel-toed boots and dusty overalls and a handful of dishevelled, bloodshot and lecherous United Nations staff drinking large vodka and Cokes. On the wall is a painted mural of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. On a shelf behind the bar is a Russian sniper's rifle.
There are still two bullet holes in the ceiling fired by the notorious renegade and bounty hunter 'Tora Bora' Jack Idema, in the days when he held court here with tall tales of his hunt for Osama bin Laden and invented a cocktail that still carries his name at the bar. But then the Mustafa has always been a sleazy magnet for shady warzone hangers-on, big-boned farmboys from the American Midwest with a taste for guns, danger and excitement, and the sort of Walter Mitty characters who whisper darkly of their special forces background.
In a flash, the boozy hubbub of blurred and boastful conversation falls silent. One of the mercenaries, a former American infantryman working for one of the private security companies paid to protect the Westerners, hisses 'faggot' at a rival before lurching off to the lavatory. Anyone with enough sobriety and sense inches away, trying their best to melt into the corners. And as the toilet door creaks open again, the room erupts in a hail of bullets...
The Week 5 November 2005