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Understanding Americans: Food Terminologies

  • a

You guys call petrol as gas, bonnet (of a car) as hood, ground floor of a building as 1st floor, toilet as washroom, however in similar vein, as we are chow related, lets have some feedback please on differences in food for similar items:

English. . . . . . . . . . American
-------. . . . . . . . . . --------

Bloody Mary. . . . . . . .Bloody Caesar
Treacle. . . . . . . . . .Molasses
Golden Syrup. . . . . . . .???
Chard. . . . . . . . . . . ???
??? . . . . . . . . . . .Graham Crackers
Coriander . . . . . . . . Cilantro
Wild Leeks & Mushrooms . .Ramps & Fiddleheads
Courgette . . . . . . . . Zucchini
Lady fingers . . . . . . . ???
??? . . . . . . . . . . Scallions
Sandwich Rolls . . . . . .Hoagie, grinder, sub
Aubergine/Brinjal . . . . Eggplant

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  1. I hope this helps:

    Lady fingers are okra.

    Sandwich rolls can be italian bread, french bread, cuban bread, vietnamese bread, sub bread... depends on the sandwich.

    Green onions and scallions are the same thing, not sure if that helps. They are the tiny onion with the long skinny green top. I think the onion part tends to be smaller in the US than what I've seen in Europe.

    Fiddleheads are not a mushroom... it is a spiral-shaped green fern sprout plant that grows for a few weeks in cooler climates... I've never seen them in Europe, though it seems like you would have the right climate for them in England.

    Golden syrup is like corn syrup or Karo syrup, but golden in color, instead of clear. Not sure if we have an exact equivalent.

    Chard is usually called Swiss Chard (even when it is a different variety), though Americans don't eat it as much. It's usually present in Italian, Portuguese or Spanish cuisine.

    14 Replies
    1. re: butterfly
      Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

      Thanks butterfly -truly appreciate it. Whilst viewing the making of a true Spanish tortilla from scratch recently, I was amazed at the size of the Spanish green onion (scallion) bulb. In UK one gets comparatively tiny ones.

      Regarding ramps, tried googling to get some more info on it. From past CH threads I believe that this is normally grown in Canada, however on google as the word also relates to various mobility / construction ramps, it gave me millions of hits with just one brief explanation ''wild like onion or garlic found in the mountains'' along with various cooking recipes (link attached). Would love to see a picture or more specific info on ramps (and fiddleheads) if someone has it.

      Link: http://www.mountain-breeze.com/kitche...

      1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

        Here's a link to a photo of a fiddlehead fern. Never cooked one myself.

        Link: http://www.dreamtimevillage.org/graph...

        1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

          Here's what I found on "ramps" -- although I don't know that they are common in Canada, at least central Canada, since I'd never heard of them before.

          Fiddleheads, on the other hand, are delicious. They are available only for a very short time in the spring.

          Link: http://www.hormel.com/kitchen/glossar...

          1. re: betsy

            Gotta agree, ramps are not Canadian, while Bloody Caesars definitely are (and not found in the US I believe. They are really much better than Bloody Marys). Amin, I think you are confusing Canadian and American posters at times (totally understandable).

            1. re: betsy

              Ramps are super common in Ontario, FYI.

            2. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

              Here in Southern California, we get both generic green onions and what are called Mexican green onions, the latter of which have the larger, well-developed bulb you describe on the Spanish ones...which I guess makes sense!

              Regarding the "Bloody Caesar" - glad to know that my latest favorite, Clamato and vodka, has a name! It has supplanted V8/vodka in my affections, especially in its Picante version.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Caesars and Blood Mary's are different drinks, partly because the former uses Clamato and the latter uses tomato juice/V8.

            3. re: butterfly

              golden syrup is nothing at all like Karo corn syrup. golden syrup is delicious eaten right out of the tin, while corn syrup is really nasty, imho! i'm not sure, but Steen's cane syrup might be a better American alternative?

              1. re: hobokeg

                Steen's Cane Syrup would indeed be closer to Golden Syrup, unfortunately it is a regional product and oddly Lyle's Golden Syrup is available everywhere.

                On the subject of scallions and green onions, I read an article not long ago that distinguished between the the two. It said that scallions are a specific type of green onion and tended to be a bit smaller and are straight in appearance where generic green onions are an immature onion of any type and often are curved and the white end can have a bit of a bulb.

                1. re: Candy
                  Caitlin McGrath

                  Interesting if there's a formal disctinction, as throughout my life I've known scallion and green onion as synonyms, though I've met people who didn't understand what I meant when I used one term, but knew the other, for the same thing.

                2. re: hobokeg

                  What exactly is golden syrup? Is it made from corn?

                  I know that this is used as a substitute in cooking for corn syrup by displaced Americans living in Europe (since no one bothers to import corn syrup), so it must have some similar properties, though it sounds like a vast improvement flavorwise. I plan to put some in a pecan pie that I'm making next month...

                  1. re: butterfly
                    Amuse Bouches

                    From FoodSubs.com:

                    golden syrup = cane juice = jus de canne = cane syrup = sugar cane juice = light treacle Notes: This amber-colored liquid sweetener is popular among British, Caribbean, and Creole cooks. It's made by evaporating sugar cane juice until it's thick and syrupy. Lyle's Golden Syrup and Steen's Pure Cane Syrup are popular brands. Substitutes: Combine two parts light corn syrup plus one part molasses OR equal parts honey and corn syrup OR maple syrup (This is thinner, and not as sweet.) OR dark corn syrup (This is thnner and not as sweet as golden syrup. If you like, try reducing the corn syrup in a saucepan to thicken it.) OR light corn syrup (This is thnner and not as sweet or flavorful as golden syrup. If you like, try reducing the corn syrup in a saucepan to thicken it.)

                    It's not super easy to find golden syrup in my regular haunts, so if it's a recipe where the flavor profile isn't important (like in the chocolate gingerbread I made this weekend, which also included molasses and lots of spices) I'll just sub in corn syrup, which is also cheaper. In something like a pecan pie, where the syrup has a prayer of being tasted, it might be worth it to substitute golden syrup.

                    1. re: butterfly


                      John Thorne wrote a chapter on pecan pie in his book Outlaw Cook, and his recipe uses golden syrup rather than corn syrup. Let me know if you would like his recipe and I'll post it on home cooking.

                      1. re: Athena

                        I would love to get that recipe--thanks!!

                3. What's a Bloody Caesar?

                  If you are talking about a combination of spiced tomato juice and vodka, then a Bloody Mary is a Bloody Mary on these shores, too.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: brentk
                    Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                    A long time ago someone had mentioned 'bloody mary' and a US poster came back with the response of 'bloody caesar', though I have no idea if its the same along your shores as it is here....

                    Ruth, thanks for the pic of the fiddlehead fern. Extremely interesting.

                    Kristen, hope you found your Korean stuff last week and look forward to your sharing the information of what you got on the particular thread.

                    1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                      Amin - All ferns go through a "fiddlehead" stage as they grow, so-named because of its appearance to the peghead of a fiddle (violin), but only fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern, genus Matteucchia, are considered edible - they're strictly a wild crop and are collected during a relatively short season in the spring. They have a taste that's often described as a cross between spinach and asparagus, with (to me, at least) a bit of "muddy" flavor thrown in. They're reasonably popular here in New England and in the Canadian maritimes, though perhaps less so than they once were.

                      1. re: FlyFish

                        Fiddleheads are the major local comestible herald of spring in the Northeast. Actually, I think they've made a substantial comeback in popularity and availability in the last 10 years, when they had been relegated to home-found or specialty goods sources.

                      2. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                        thanks, Amin! i'm heading to new malden this week, hopefully (taking off early from work friday). will definitely let you know how that goes!

                    2. A Bloody Caesar is not a Bloody Mary. The Bloody Caesar, created in Canada, uses Clamato instead of Tomato Juice in a Bloody Caesar recipe. Clamato is a mix of clam juice and tomato juice. The resulting mixture is not as acidic as a traditional Bloody Mary.

                      1. j
                        Jersey City Mods

                        A long sandwich is only called a Hoagie in Philadelphia. Grinders seem to be Westchester County, NY and Connecticut. Other people just say "sub"

                        Ramps are not common where I live but I thought they were a seasonal thing down South. I would be interested to try them, but I have never seen them. I only tried Fiddleheads once. The season lasts about a week or so and they are hard to find. They taste a little like Asparagus though.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Jersey City Mods

                          ramps are a big springtime delicacy in the western north carolina area.

                          somewhere between a garlicky onion and oniony garlic in taste, they are the focus of many festivals in our neck of the woods.

                          very pungent smell, milder flavor. the odor tends to linger for a few days if consumed in quantity.

                          they're delicious.

                          1. re: Jersey City Mods

                            But "subs" are called po-boys in the south. And Heros out west. I'm pretty sure there are more names for that type of sandwich regionally.

                            1. re: bryan
                              Jersey City Mods

                              True. However, I think the Po Boy is unique in that it uses mainly hot ingredients like breaded oysters and shrimp, or roast beef with gravy (and a very unique set of dressings). Damn, I want one now!

                              Most of the heroes, subs, hoagies etc. use cold cured meats. (and then there are the meatball sandwiches which have a whole different set of names (Wedge being one I remember from a former life)...and the fact that in Philly a Grinder is a hoagie that has been left to toast in a Pizza overn...

                              It's too confusing....I know there is a post like this on the New York board.

                            2. re: Jersey City Mods

                              Fiddleheads aren't mushrooms; they are edible ferns. Scallions may be scallions or green onions. Chard is Swiss chard. Graham crackers are digestive biscuits. Lady fingers are lady fingers. Sultanas are raisins. Golden Syrup we don't really have; we have Karo Syrup but one is darker than Golden and one is lighter. Porridge is oatmeal. Biscuits are cookies. Scones are either scones or biscuits (slight differences). Swiss roll is jelly roll. Victoria Sandwich is layer cake. Christmas cake is fruitcake. Mince is ground beef. Marrow or courgettes are zucchini squash or some other kind of summer squash. Poor Knights or Taste and Try are (is) French toast. Jelly is jello. In the UK flapjacks are a kind of sweet biscuit but in the US flapjacks are pancakes aka thick crepes. In the US Spotted Dick is not a pudding but a social disease; Scotch Egg non inventus est. Orange Squash is not Fanta or Nehi. Bacon is Canadian bacon unless it's streaky, in which case it's bacon. Salad Creme is slime in any language, and Black Pudding: don't ask.

                              1. re: N Tocus
                                Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                Thanks to all of you for having made this into such an interesting and informative thread.

                                Poor Knights / Taste / Try for French toast ??
                                Regarding flapjacks, somehow I always associated these with the US meaning of pancakes and was always getting confused when people on the board kept wanting the UK flapjacks. A recent discovery (through a NY poster) of UK flapjacks included small chocolatey muffins and cake-y concoctions individually packed and labeled as flapjacks.

                                1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')
                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                  I don't know the UK term for French toast, but you might know it by its French name, pain perdu ("lost bread"). It's bread dipped in an egg/milk mix and fried (sauteed). In the US, it's a breakfast dish in the same category as pancakes or waffles.

                              2. re: Jersey City Mods

                                We grew up calling them both "hoagies" and "subs" in Maryland in the 80s/90s.

                              3. Am I incorrect in remembering that american raisins are "sultanas" across the pond? Thanks for any info!

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: Lizard

                                  one other questions....barring yorkshire pudding....is a pudding really a generic term for dessert?

                                  1. re: Lizard

                                    Not really, although there is a trend for it to be so called in the Midlands and North. Steak and Kidney pudding could not be called a dessert but the term is familiar UK wide.


                                    1. re: Bob Moffatt

                                      I respectfully disagree.

                                      all of my london friends and family use the term "pudding" as a generic term for dessert. of course, it can also refer to savory puddings, but then these are usually called by their full names, as in "yorkshire pudding."

                                      1. re: missmasala

                                        "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"

                                        1. re: cornflower

                                          exactly. and by the way, my husband loves the leftover yorkshire puddings with golden syrup and cream.

                                          i thought it was hilarious the first time i heard someone ask 'what's for pudding?'.

                                          sandwiches are confusing too. depending on where you are, you might ask for a bacon sandwich, or a bacon cob, or a bacon butty. as far as i can tell, those all could refer to bacon on a roll.

                                          1. re: hobokeg

                                            And let's not forget that in Scotland (Glasgow, at least), sandwiches are referred to as a "piece," as in piece of bread. For example, a cheese sandwich is "a piece and cheese," etc.

                                            I'm really enjoying this thread!!

                                            1. re: LisaM
                                              Jersey City Mods

                                              OK, so what about a "Jam Buttie". Having heard this line in the movie "A Hard Day's Night" I thought it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That is, until I read that "buttie" is just Liverpool-speak for Sandwich...and that a "Jam Buttie" is a jam sandwich.

                                              1. re: Jersey City Mods

                                                Good point, Jersey City Mods - glad you brought it up!!

                                                Actually, I believe that "butty" is a term used across the British Midlands in general to refer to a sandwich. When I went there several years ago, I was appalled to discover that they eat something called a "chip butty," which is essentially what we Yanks might refer to as a french fry sandwich (Dr. Atkins is rolling over in his grave as I write this).

                                                And yes, in Glasgow, there is indeed something called a "piece and chips," which is - you guessed it - a chip butty.


                                                1. re: LisaM

                                                  Not much worse than the spaghetti sandwich my aunt had in Australia. Canned spaghetti on white bread, the other choice was canned baked beans on white bread. It was in the outback and they were hungry and there were not other choices.

                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                    I love spaghetti sandwiches, but I make them as you would pannini with leftover spaghetti and cheese on buttery garlic sandwich bread then grill it.

                                                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                      nothing like tinned Heinz spaghetti on sliced white toast with loads of butter. I also like Heinz macaroni cheese from the tin which they don't sell in the US - also on toast. But then the Brits love everything on toast don't we?

                                                  2. re: LisaM

                                                    Well...not sure I'd care for a potato sandwich completely unadorned, but around forty years and/or sixty pounds ago my favorite late-night treat was a grilled cheese and fries from the corner snack bar, which I would take home and combine. Still sounds awful good...and potato chip crumbs, turns out, are a popular hot-dog sandwich INGREDIENT in several Latin American countries.

                                                    Dr. Atkins can tapdance down there for all I care.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      I used to put all kinds of chips in sandwiches growing up. I remember alot of my friends eating bagels with cream cheese and doritos. Even now I really like adding tortilla strips inside burritos. The crunch as a nice textural change to the burritto.

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        Well there is Poutine in Quebec, french fries with cheese curds and gravy. Yummy stuff.

                                        2. re: Lizard

                                          Pudding is actually a derivitave of the french word Boudin or sausage. The first puddings were savory meat based sausages like black or white pudding. Over time people started cooking opther things inside casings like suasage including sweet pusddings. Eventually the casings were dropped and pudding was made other ways.

                                        3. re: Lizard
                                          Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                          Over here also raisins are raisins, however I think the difference between a raisin and a sultana is either that of size or of colour/texture. Sultana's I believe come generally from Turkey amongst other areas.

                                          Regarding your query about Yorkshire pudding being called a pudding, am not sure of its history (will google it a bit later as am about to go out), however my guess on this one is that because it rises, the old saying about being ''in the pudding club'' (being pregnant) probably originates from a yorkshire pud -I may be wrong but guess its a good theory to work upon.

                                          regarding pudding being a generic term for dessert, I dont think it is quite so, and pudding in my mind is generally something that is part solid/part liquid-y
                                          such as trifle, jell-0 (jelly), and similar.

                                          A 'spotted dick' is basically also a pudding with black currants such as sultanas or raisins mixed with flour, baking powder & vegetable or beef suet, covered with parchment paper, & steamed in a steamer served with custard. (Custard -also a pudding ?)

                                          Dessert on the other hand can mean loads of other non-custardy, non-liquidy /non-jello-y items such as for example cakes, ice-cream, profiteroles, etc etc.

                                          Hopefully some old brits will add their input to this.

                                          Betsy/Westsidehound -thanks re: ramps.

                                          1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                            Actually, in the USA, golden raisins (now the more common name due to marketing) used to be called sultanas and are still by many people (such as me) who have not kept up with the marketing folks.

                                            Then there is the cracker/biscuit/muffin embroglio between the two dialects.

                                            A good friend of mine was raised in Britain and emigrated to the USA as a teen about 25 years ago. He lamented the loss of the wonders of British confectionary aisles....

                                            But he was consoled by the wonders of American breakfast cereals, which opened worlds of sweetness he had never encountered.

                                        4. Bloody Mary. . . . . . Bloody Mary
                                          Treacle. . . . . . . . Molasses (blackstrap also)
                                          Golden Syrup. . . . . .Golden Syrup (Steen's is darker)
                                          Chard. . . . . . . . . Swiss chard
                                          [wheatmeal biscuits?]. Graham Crackers
                                          Coriander . . . . . .. Cilantro (for leaf only)
                                          Wild Leeks/Mushrooms . N/A / mushrooms
                                          Courgette . . . . . . .Zucchini/summer squash
                                          Lady fingers . . . . . Okra
                                          Green onions . . . . . Scallions (large bulbed)
                                          Sandwich Rolls . . . . Hoagie, grinder, sub, hero, gyro
                                          Aubergine/Brinjal . . .Eggplant

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Karl S.

                                            Sandwich rolls: also bulkies (largish round roll). "Sandwich" is a very generic term here, e.g., a "filled roll" would qualify as a sandwich.

                                            I always thought "swedes" were rutabagas.

                                            Would "pudding" for dessert be regional? I had friends (from London) who used it that way ("what's for pud?").

                                            1. re: Karl S.

                                              wild leeks are ramps. we get them here at nyc farmer's markets and they are delicious.

                                              fiddleheads are not mushrooms, they are a type of fern.

                                              how about your mange touts, which we call snowpeas?

                                              also, your cornflour is our corn starch.

                                              also, i don't think ladies fingers are okra. I always thought ladies fingers are what i call drumsticks, which is a different vegetable entirely and one i've never seen outside of indian cooking. but perhaps i'm wrong. if so, what do you call drumsticks over there? (do you know the veg i mean? long skinny cylinder that you suck the seeds and pulp out of? often found in sambar. similar to okra, perhaps.)

                                              1. re: missmasala
                                                Jersey City Mods

                                                I always thought Ladyfingers were those oblong sponge cake like things that they use to make Tira Misu. I suppose it could be both.

                                                1. re: Jersey City Mods

                                                  I also think that ladyfingers are those spongy cookies also known as sponge biscuits elsewhere.

                                                  1. re: wally

                                                    If you ask for ladyfingers in Britain, you'll get okra.

                                                    If you ask for ladyfingers in most places in the U.S., you'll get sponge biscuits.

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      Yes, this misunderstanding once led to the production of a most disturbing Tiramisu.

                                                        1. re: petradish

                                                          Oh dear. :) "Waiter, there's okra in my English trifle!"

                                            2. A favorite of mine, is your "swedes" for our "turnips". We don't pronounce the 't' in filet. My son and his family live in London and he's gone native in his speech. Lovely country, England.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Pat Hammond
                                                Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                :-)Thanks Pat. Also to everyone else -impossible to thank individually, but please keep your ideas coming. Truly appreciated. Will sit this out a bit and leave more responses to others for a while -gotta go out right now
                                                Kind regards/Amin

                                                1. re: Pat Hammond

                                                  Though, the terms swede and rutabaga are also used in distinction to turnip. My Thanksgiving dinner would be incomplete without my mother's recipe for mashed rutabagas and potatoes, which we also incongruously called "mashed turnips" for short. When I encountered *real* turnips later in life, I did not like them as much as rutabagas. But I never had boiled rutabagas: only mashed or roasted.

                                                  1. re: Pat Hammond

                                                    And then of course you can always throw in a bit of Cockney rhyming slang to confuse the poor innocent tourists. "Just take the apples and pears to get to the meeting of the Brussels sprouts" (take the "stairs" apples and pears to find the "scouts" Brussels sprouts). (g)

                                                    1. re: Pat Hammond

                                                      Strictly speaking, swedes are rutabagas, not turnips (although most people, me included, have trouble telling the differenct).

                                                      I think in England they also use "spring onion" to mean "green onion" or "scallion."

                                                      My late uncle used to call some variety of broccoli "calabrese" although I never did get a handle on what he meant by that. I've always seen broccoli sold as broccoli on both sides of the pond.

                                                      Let's see ... someone already got cornstrach/cornflour, but did anyone mention icing powdered sugar/icing sugar? And then there's caster sugar, which doesn't really have an American equivalent, although superfine sugar comes close.

                                                      In England cream is either single cream or double cream, as opposed to the US where the equivalents would be whipping cream and heavy whipping cream. I think coffee cream is equivalent to American half-and-half, but I'm not sure.

                                                      The English term for ham is "gammon," and of course they have a lot of different terms for cuts of bacon that don't exist in America. And hamburger is "mince" in England.

                                                      Amusingly, in England a "faggot" is a meatball. One summer when I was in England there was an ad campaign for a new line of frozen meatballs, the tag line for which was "take a faggot to lunch" -- which had my friend and me in stitches.

                                                      And yes, pudding, in addition to being used to for specific dishes, is also widely used as generic for "dessert," although I think that's a a lower-class slang usage that's come into common usage. One of my step-cousins calls the evening meal "tea," which I understand is very working class usage -- I think she does it to drive her upwardly mobile mother crazy.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Tea is used in the Midlands to North of England to mean the meal eaten at dinnertime. It was a "workin-'class" term, not a "lower-class" terms. My relatives come from Yorkshire and lunch is called dinner. In the "middle-class" the term supper means dinner time. Cuppa means a cup of tea.

                                                        Faggots are meatballs made with different bits of offal.. All meatballs are not faggots.

                                                    2. Chard can refer to kale, to mustard, beet or turnip greens, or to Swiss chard.

                                                      We haven't golden syrup here... when golden syrup is called for, one goes to a British imports shop and buys it specially.

                                                      Don't forget the gas marks -- we don't use them in the US, so being told to preheat an oven to gas mark 7 is odd to us.

                                                      1. m

                                                        And don't forget chips = French fries.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: maryelizabeth

                                                          ...and crisps = chips.

                                                        2. Uh, shouldn't the headings be British / American (or U.S.) ... we all speak English, even the Canadians and Austrailians.

                                                          Anyway the link below has a glossary of Britisn/American food terms. A few they missed:

                                                          Jacket potato - baked potato
                                                          Lager - beer (of the Bud/Miller type)
                                                          beer - Ales and everything that is not a lager
                                                          sweets - candy (sweets in the US can be anything sugar based like pies, cakes, etc)
                                                          boiled sweets - hard candy
                                                          Biscuits - cookies
                                                          ??? - biscuits ususally a small type of breakfast bread)
                                                          candy floss - cotton candy
                                                          fairy cake - cupcake
                                                          fishfingers - fishsticks
                                                          eggy bread - French toast
                                                          jelly - Jell-o
                                                          jam - jam / jelly (no fruit chunks in it)
                                                          iced lolly - popsicle
                                                          scallions - spring onions
                                                          mange tout - snowpeas
                                                          takeaway - take out restaurant
                                                          porridge - oatmeal

                                                          Here's that link to the glossary

                                                          Link: http://www.globalgourmet.com/cgi-bin/...

                                                          1. Also:
                                                            00 flour = all-purpose flour

                                                            Does capsicum = bell pepper? Or is it a special type of pepper?

                                                            Also, I was watching Kylie Kwong (Australian chef) on Canadian Food Network yesterday. Her shallots is our green onions.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: cecilia

                                                              Capsicum does indeed mean bell pepper. (Chiles, while technically capsicums, are usually called chillies in Britain.)

                                                              Of course, there's also the various names for sugar.

                                                              Icing sugar (B) = Superfine sugar (A)
                                                              10X sugar (B) = Confectioner's sugar (A)

                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                And castor (sometimes caster) sugar (B) - superfine sugar (A).

                                                                1. re: FlyFish

                                                                  and don't forget preserving sugar. i actually have no idea what that is, but i saw it in sainsbury's the other day.

                                                                2. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  I always thought caster sugar=superfine sugar and icing sugar=confectioner's (powdered) sugar (which would seem to make sense, since it's what's used for icing)?

                                                              2. We (Americans) and our British cousins used to compile elaborate British-American dictionaries when we were kids. We still howl if I admire their pants or they offer me a fag.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Junie D

                                                                  And then there's the faggots and peas that Delia Smith has in one of her cookbooks. (I think the faggots are pieces of meat cut up like matchsticks or something). I keep meaning to make it . . .

                                                                  1. re: Wisco

                                                                    Things go round. Gayettes are french faggots. There are more recipies (all original) than you can throw sticks at for faggots. Nothing wrong with offal.


                                                                2. Surprised the usage for scallions has drifted, as it is a Middle English word; comes to us from Latin, a slightly more generic term that includes leeks and shallots.

                                                                  1. It's common to see French vocabulary making its way into the British vernacular:

                                                                    sandwich au jambon = ham sandwich
                                                                    chocolate gateux = chocolate cake

                                                                    1. Amin, what is a vegetable marrow?

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                        A summer squash (i.e., zucchini, yellow squash), though some people also use it to refer to gourds or winter squash (pumpkins, et al.)

                                                                        1. re: Candy
                                                                          Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                          Hi Candy,
                                                                          Had gone out for dinner and have just come back. Amazing how this thread is going. Will go through all the responses tomorrow. Regarding your marrow question, I think that Das Ubergreek has identified it quite aptly.

                                                                          Keep your thoughts going please. Am enjoying this thread.

                                                                        2. Here's another one. I lived in London long ago and went around looking for "English muffins". Alas, they are known as crumpets. It's not food related, but I walked into our office and the girls all called out to me that "I had a ladder in my tights". That was a good one - sounds much more interesting than a run in my stockings!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: melcarr

                                                                            i've found that english muffins are just called 'muffins.' got laughed at discovering that! crumpets are fabulous with butter and marmite!

                                                                            1. Chard. . . . . . . . . . . Swiss Chard
                                                                              digestives. . . . . . . . .Graham Crackers
                                                                              Lady fingers . . . . . . . lady fingers
                                                                              spring onions. . . . . . . Scallions (also called green onions, at least from Chicago to the west coast)

                                                                              This one is baffling:

                                                                              Wild Mushrooms . . . . . . Fiddleheads

                                                                              Ummm...no. "fiddleheads" are fern spouts, so called because of their resemblance to the namesake.

                                                                              1. I'm surprised no one's mentioned the one that always makes me scratch my head:


                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Pete G.

                                                                                  The French for arugula is roquette, from whence rocket.
                                                                                  The Italian for rocket is rucola, from whence arugula.

                                                                                  C'est bien clair, non?

                                                                                2. ladyfingers = okra

                                                                                  1. I think the closest UK food to graham crackers would be digestive biscuits, although they aren't the same thing at all.

                                                                                    Also: In the UK "biscuits" refer to cookies, but not all kinds of cookies. You wouldn't refer to a chewy chocolate chip cookie as a biscuit. I still don't know the true distinction.

                                                                                    bacon (UK) = back bacon (US, hard to find)
                                                                                    streaky bacon (UK) = bacon (US)
                                                                                    satsuma (UK) = seedless tangerine (US)
                                                                                    sweets (UK) = candy (US)

                                                                                    butter on sandwich bread (UK) -> mayo on sandwich bread (US)

                                                                                    And the worst:
                                                                                    1 US pint = 5/6 UK pint
                                                                                    1 US teaspoon = 5/6 UK teaspoon
                                                                                    1 US fluid ounce = 1.041 UK fluid ounces

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: cornflower

                                                                                      "Satsuma" is also used here in the U.S. -- it's actually the name of a variety of tangerine also called "mandarin orange", so one vendor at my local market sells Satsuma and Murcott tangerines.

                                                                                      What the British call "bacon" hasn't really got an analogue here, I suppose pancetta would be the closest. "Back bacon" is the Canadian term for what Americans call "Canadian bacon".

                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                        In Canada what we call Canadian bacon is sometimes called back bacon. The cut is different from British / Irish bacon, but they are both called back bacon. The term "back bacon" is used more in Ireland than in the UK although they mostly just call it bacon. British bacon comes from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig.

                                                                                        I never heard the word "tangerine" used in the UK. Only "satsuma" (seedless) and "clementine" (with some seeds). What's strange is that the name "satsuma" actually came from an American who associated the fruit with the Japanese district it came from. (The japanese word is "mikan").

                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                          Nooo. Canadian back bacon isn't American "Canadian" bacon--smoked, salty and a bit dried out. True Canadian bacon is known up here as peameal bacon-brined, unsmoked and rolled in peameal. Trust me.

                                                                                          1. re: Ronin

                                                                                            Our back bacon (in Canada) is also known as peameal bacon. Usually it is rolled in cornmeal nowadays, not peameal.

                                                                                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                            british bacon is back bacon; it's a different cut of the pork, and it's got more meat, less fat. you can get it either smoked or unsmoked in any supermarket. they call american bacon "streaky bacon."

                                                                                          3. re: cornflower

                                                                                            I know the term "streaky bacon" from the cooking show" Two FAt Ladies." I loved that show!!

                                                                                          4. oh- i just thought of another one...when i first came to england, i worked in a sandwich shop. there was much confusion the first time someone ordered cheese and pickle.

                                                                                            in america, pickle usually means pickled cucumber, whether sweet, or with dill, etc ("gherkin" in england). america doesn't really have an equivalent of Branston pickle or the like.

                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: hobokeg

                                                                                              Hey - you can't leave all us Yanks hanging like that. What's Branston pickle?

                                                                                              1. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                It is a tangy pickle mix of assorted vegetables. Dark in color and rich, readily available in the US. Crosse and Blackwell import it.

                                                                                                1. re: Candy

                                                                                                  Would that be similar to the Pennsylvania Dutch picalilli? (sp?)

                                                                                                  1. re: Linda W.

                                                                                                    Or giardiniera? Or yellow relish?

                                                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                      I, too, was confused when I ordered grilled cheese and pickle in London. It was, indeed, Branston pickle. I think it's more related to a chutney--sweet and savory at the same time with similar consistency, chunky and dark. Not bright and crunch like relishes, it's a cooked down pickle. Brought some home for MIL who loves it.

                                                                                                      1. re: berkleybabe

                                                                                                        Ahhh, OK - that makes more sense, as I know picallili as a mustard-based type of veggie relish.

                                                                                                        Googled Crosse & Blackwell's Branston Pickle, and found this.

                                                                                                        Link: http://onlinestore.smucker.com/displa...

                                                                                                        Image: http://onlinestore.smucker.com/images...

                                                                                                        1. re: berkleybabe

                                                                                                          Oh, it's a *relish*. That's a concept Americans understand on sandwiches. It's just a different kind of relish.

                                                                                                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                          It reminds me of pickled vegetables mixed with HP sauce. But then, HP is British as well, so that might not make things any clearer.

                                                                                                          1. re: Middydd

                                                                                                            It reminds me of a thick, chunky, and slightly sweet worcestershire sauce.

                                                                                                            1. re: petradish

                                                                                                              And what does HP and worcestershire and Branston have in common? Tamarind!

                                                                                                    2. re: FlyFish
                                                                                                      Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                      Flyfish !!! you're just the person I was about to talk of. You see, Nancy Berry mentioned an interesting site to go to (http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/foodx.... I have just finished a message to Nancy but as you're already here, am posting it to you instead. Let Hobokeg reply to your branston pickle (which has been around since the last 40/50 years or so).

                                                                                                      Right, here goes -Here is the message drafted for Nancy, relating to you:

                                                                                                      From the above site there are probably a few incorrect(or confusing) entries.

                                                                                                      Chicory (UK) / Belgian endive (US
                                                                                                      )Curly endive (UK) / Chicory (US)

                                                                                                      Essence (UK) / Extract (US)

                                                                                                      Regarding essence and extract, my understanding is that :

                                                                                                      Essence: is an alocoholic solution of a volatile or essential oil, herb or similar., viz. vanilla essence, essence of almond etc.

                                                                                                      Extract on the other hand is explained in the Chambers Twentieth Century dictionary (yeah I know it’s a century old -latest reprint 1980 edition) as being anything drawn from a substance by heat, distillation, solvents, etc as an essence.

                                                                                                      Hence an essence is obtained by way of an alcoholic solution while an extract is drawn by heat, distillation, solvents, etc. and in my view an essence and an extract are two different things.

                                                                                                      I think someone highly technical such as flyfish might be able to answer this

                                                                                                      1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                        My goodness – with a build up like that I’d better have some sort of answer. This isn’t really a scientific question, of course, but I won’t let that minor detail prevent me from attempting a scientific response, or at least a response from the perspective of a scientist. With that as prelude, let me see what I can do to add to the confusion.

                                                                                                        From your description of what the term “essence” refers to in the UK, and my understanding of what the term “extract” refers to over here, I think they’re the same thing, i.e., a solution of the chemical or chemicals (most likely the latter, more about that later) that give a particular food or other substance (but let’s restrict the discussion going forward to food because that’s why we’re here) its characteristic flavor and/or color. An important part of that definition is the term “solution” which implies the use of a solvent to extract (verb) the chemicals from the food item and create the extract (noun). The chemicals of interest are typically rather simple organic molecules such as aldehydes, ketones, esters, and other types of carboxylic acid derivatives. As a group they tend not to dissolve particularly well in water, and so it would be much more efficient to do the extraction with organic solvents such as toluene or acetone. Unfortunately those things are also toxic and it wouldn’t do to have them in a food product, so that leaves us with ethyl alcohol, which is a better solvent than water for organic molecules and isn’t toxic – at least not in moderate quantities. So, your distinction between essence (alcoholic solution) and extract (something drawn from a substance by a solvent) isn’t really a distinction because alcohol is the usual solvent. And yes, there can be various types of heating and distillation type steps involved, but those are just refinements to the basic extraction-with-solvent procedure.

                                                                                                        So what, then, is “essence?” My understanding of that term (other than its use in the UK and probably elsewhere in the sense of “extract”) is that it refers to the chemical or group of chemicals that is extracted, independent of whether an actual extraction is performed. The term “essential oil” doesn’t refer to the oil itself per se, but rather to the essence, which is dissolved in the oil (oil makes a fine organic solvent for so-called non-polar chemicals). As an example, if you soak a vanilla bean in alcohol you’ll extract the essence of the vanilla, which is the chemical known as vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-benzaldehyde, for the chemists out there), along with a bunch of other chemicals that give real, or so-called pure, vanilla its wonderful complexity. If you evaporate off the alcohol you’re left with a crystalline substance – composed of the vanillin and other chemicals - that is the essence of vanilla. Or, you can start with any one of a number of chemical precursors and make artificial vanillin on a laboratory bench. It will be the same vanillin chemically and (except for the missing other chemicals) will also be the essence of [artificial] vanilla, even though no extraction was performed. It’s possible with an instrument known as a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) to analyze natural flavors and scents, determine exactly what molecules are present, and then build those molecules in the lab, which is where all the artificial flavors on the market come from. The reason they tend to taste artificial – more or less, depending on the particular flavor and who’s manufacturing it – is in general the lack of the complex mixture of other chemicals that are present in the natural product but not in its artificial imitator.

                                                                                                        So, that’s my long-winded view of it, which may or may not have any correspondence to culinary reality. Hope it’s of some help, or at least some interest.

                                                                                                        1. re: FlyFish
                                                                                                          Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                          Flyfish, many thanks for the detailed and in-depth reply. Though a lot has virtually gone over my head, but am going to re-read it to understand it better.

                                                                                                          Unfortunately my chemistry lessons in school during the late 60's ended rather abruptly when, whilst using a bunsen burner to heat some simple liquids, I accidently destroyed a whole load of apparatus and glass jars, nearly blowing up half the lab in the process.

                                                                                                          Rather than hurt my feelings, I was gently advised by the school admin people to take up some other subject instead.

                                                                                                          1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')
                                                                                                            Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            Chemistry aside, it comes down to this: the link Nancy gave, and the essence (no pun intended) of FlyFish's answer are correct. What's called vanilla or almond, etc. essence in the UK is called extract in the US, both with an alcohol base.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                              Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                              bottomline well noted. Thanks again to you and flyfish for the interesting info.

                                                                                                      2. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                        the other posters covered it pretty well. i like to think that the abundance of pickles and chutneys in the UK are due to the Indian influence. could be wrong, though.

                                                                                                        lots of pubs serve a "ploughman's lunch," which is a plate stacked with cheese, pickle, bread, salad, and fruit, usually apples. it's been a revelation for me!

                                                                                                    3. just to throw in a couple more, in London at least a bap seems to be a sandwich (or is it the bread itself?), and the sandwiches seem to come as a matter of course with butter, salt and pepper on it, which would not be true in the US.

                                                                                                      Also, the Brits seem to say "sweet corn" where we say "corn". And at a sandwich place, the tuna salad seems to inevitably incorporate corn in it, which is something I have never seen in the US.

                                                                                                      Finally, I thought the US "bacon" was known in the UK as "crispy bacon".

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: josephsm
                                                                                                        Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                        A bap is a smallish bun with a bit of floury sprinkle on top. No sesame seeds like you may be used to with your MCD's. If you remember the old wimpy buns, its somewhat like that.

                                                                                                        I think that there is a bit of distinction between ordinary corn and sweet corn such as the Green Giant brand of sweet corn you get here, and if you like corn in your tuna salad, then you're better off here as long as you don't worry about the exchange rate.

                                                                                                        Now bacon, that is a wholly different subject, and something which I have no clue about whatsoever purely because I don’t go anywhere near bacon, ham, pork, sausage (excepting beef sausage), tripe, blood sausage, pata negra, pata blanco, or any other parts of a piggy, however I may be wrong here, but I believe that the 'crispy bacon' you refer to is probably what is called as rashers in the UK (lets see if someone disagrees on this).

                                                                                                        1. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                          I agree with Amin about 'bap'.

                                                                                                          To me 'corn' has always been a problem. I think most brits (I am brit) understand 'corn' to be wheat unless qualified by 'on the cob' or 'sweet' in which case it becomes a maize product.

                                                                                                          Bacon is also a problem - not so much bacon itself - but ham/gammon - the terms are rather loosly applied. Generally brits think of bacon as thin (1/4" - 1/8") slices (rashers) cut from the back (back bacon) or the belly (streaky bacon).

                                                                                                          Finally, for Amin, in UK tripe (which I like and eat frequently) is not a pig product but cow/ox stomach.

                                                                                                          Fascinating isn't it? Two nations divided by a common language. I had a US girl-friend who's mother was horrified to hear that my land-lady (I was in university digs at the time) used to knock me up every morning.


                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Moffatt

                                                                                                            I think tripe is bovine stomach everywhere, although I believe there's sheep's tripe as well (never had THAT). The pig guts item is chitterlings, or chit'lins if you're negotiating over the lunch counter for some, which I have done. I liked'em, though lashings of Tabasco helped a lot.

                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                              Sheep's intestines are pretty common in Spain. One popular way that they are served in my neighborhood is wrapped around two sticks (Blair Witch style--well actually Cuenca style, as zarajos). Then it is cut into slices and deep fried in olive oil. It's good stuff. A LOT less funky than chit'lins.

                                                                                                            2. re: Bob Moffatt
                                                                                                              La Dolce Vita

                                                                                                              I'm chuckling at your post because it reminds me of a funny story.

                                                                                                              I'm American, so is my brother-in-law. He spent a year in London at the London School of Economics. One evening, he and an American friend were invited to the home of hospitable Londoners.

                                                                                                              During dinner, the conversation turned toward holiday meals. The American friend said, "Hey, do you folks stuff birds in this country?"--referring, of course, to turkey and stuffing.

                                                                                                              A horrified silence descended on the table. The American was confused that his innocent question was met with such a reaction. "What? What did I say?" he asked. My brother-in-law elbowed him in the ribs and whispered: "Just be quiet, change the subject, and I'll explain later."

                                                                                                              Apparently, in the UK, "stuffing birds" is a vulgar term that refers to male sexual relations with a woman.

                                                                                                              1. re: La Dolce Vita
                                                                                                                Corey Woolley

                                                                                                                My wife is English and when we were visiting the USA, we went to a cocktail party. She does not like cherries in her drink so she shouted out "Does anyone want my cherry?" (completely unaware of its significance.
                                                                                                                Much later I explained what it meant and she was horrified at her mistake!

                                                                                                              2. re: Bob Moffatt
                                                                                                                Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                                ->-> my land-lady (I was in university digs at the time) used to knock me up every morning. <-<-

                                                                                                                From your past posts I had a feeling that you were a Brit. Not bad to have a landlady dig you at your digs :-) A bit like La Dolce Vita's story but in reverse.

                                                                                                                Thanks for the correction on tripe. You're absolutely right. I think that black pudding is made from tripe (and other things) is'nt it ? Reminds of of the first (and very last) time I had black pudding (I thought it was a kind of pudding like yorkshire pud) some years ago in the lake district, I asked the female server what it was made from, and she insisted that she will tell me after I have finished it. It really made by stomach churn as it was not something I would have tried knowing in advance of its contents.

                                                                                                              3. re: Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                                                                                                                Amin, I've also had sheep tripe at a halal Maghrebi restaurant in the suburbs of Paris.

                                                                                                                I guess you don't have the indignity to food known as "chicken bacon" (processed chicken and chicken fat dyed and arranged to look like the porky stuff). And yes, I've seen it halal and kosher.

                                                                                                              4. re: josephsm

                                                                                                                I hear sweet corn here in the US, more to distinguish it from field corn, then there is that awful super sweet corn...

                                                                                                              5. Apropos of

                                                                                                                "Sandwich Rolls . . . . . .Hoagie, grinder, sub"

                                                                                                                I would think that in the UK the closest analog, refering to a sandwich made on a long roll, would be a baguette (which, admittedly, is a French word). Pub menus seem to include quite a selection in the baguette column, most of which wouldn't look too strange in a US deli's sub menu.

                                                                                                                1. I'm a bit surprised at the notion that digestives = graham crackers, since digestives taste similar to but not the same as graham crackers, their texture is different (somewhat rougher), they are thicker, and they are round. I've lived in Ontario, various cities in the US, and Taiwan, and have seen digestives on sale as such in all. Preferably with chocolate on one side!

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    Agree with you buttertart, they are not the same. Plain digestives (very nice with a cup of tea in the morning btw) are the best substitute to make a crust for cheesecake though. It's just that they are the closest match so for some reason I think some people think they are the same. Another thing they are good with is a slice of cheese like cheddar, but do butter first as the flavor is better imho. Digestives are contained in the assorted 'biscuits for cheese' boxes sold by Crawford here, and I believe in the US. I was introduced to this way of eating cheese and biscuits by my aunt who was the one who converted me to cheese by bringing home all sorts of hard cheeses like Cheshire, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester and Cheddar and letting me try them. She would go to her local branch of British Home Stores which used to have a food hall and there would be huge rounds of cheese to choose from. She would also make cheese sandwiches with chutney which I hadn't ever had before. This was in the Seventies and prior to that my experience with cheese had been Limburger and Kraft Slices mostly in the US.

                                                                                                                    I don't know anyone who doesn't like the chocolate covered digestives. I especially like the dark chocolate ones. Most supermarkets have their own generic brand which is much cheaper than the Mcvities ones. I usually bring them back to the States with me as gifts.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cathodetube

                                                                                                                      Digestives are the only biscuit I like with cheese. McVities used to make them in our town but moved production a few years back