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Sep 26, 2005 05:20 AM

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 '''')

      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.


      1. re: Amin (London Foodie '''')

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


        1. re: Amin (London Foodie '''')

          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.


          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 '''')

              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


                    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 '''')

                    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 '''')

                      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 '''')

                        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 '''')

                                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 '''')
                                  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 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 '''')

                                          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 '''')

                                            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.