5 on Friday: 5 American Food Terms that are Bloody Confusing to the British

March 7, 2014 | By | Comments (12)

There are a few things that Americans name differently which really seem to grind the gears of our pre-colonial comrades. Take “soccer” for example. While the rest of the world refers to this sport as “football,” we have our own special pet name for it, and use the term “football” for a completely different sport that doesn’t really involve much foot-to-ball contact. Confusing? Yes!

Here are 5 food terms Americans use which either have a different meaning or no meaning at all in the UK.

1. Muffin

In the U.S: The sweet, individual-sized cake-like quick bread, baked in a muffin tin and wrapped in a muffin wrapper. Basically: A cupcake that you eat for breakfast

In the U.K: A flatter, hockey puck-shaped that is actual yeast-leaved bread (not quick bread) that’s savory with delightful nooks and crannies. Served toasted, split in half with butter or jam.

muffin

See More: Healthy Muffin Recipes

2. Biscuit

In the U.S: Delicious, buttery, flaky flour-based goodness.

In the U.K: Varies from a thin, sweet cookie to more of a dry, less sweet cracker. Also, if trying to pose as a Brit, make sure to dunk this in your cup of tea.

Biscuit

See More: Healthy Biscuit Recipes

3. Chips

In the U.S: Thin, crispy slices of potatoes, fried or baked to potato perfection.

In the U.K: What Americas think of as steak fries; larger wedges of potato, perfect for accompanying a large chunk of fried fish.

Chips

See More: 10 Healthy Chips

4. Arugula

In the U.S: Peppery, feathery green for salads.

In the U.K: Rocket!

arugula-2

See More: Arugula Salad Recipes

5. Ketchup

In the U.S: Token tomato condiment for burgers, fries, and everything else under the sun.

In the U.K: Tomato sauce!

ketchup-2

Check out our Healthy British Recipes and stay tuned for our reversal—5 Food Terms the British Say that are Bloody Confusing to Americans!

COMMENTS

  1. mrtavora

    A few points:
    -Soccer is actually a british word. It was a short way of saying ‘Association Football’, not to be confused with ‘Rugby Football’
    -Those UK chips are actually ‘potato wedges’. Chips are like oversized french fries. The thicker ones are called ‘steak chips’.
    -Ketchup: I live in London and everyone calls it Ketchup, however the colonies (Oz, Nz, South Africa, etc) still call it ‘tomato sauce’.

    @Shannon: an ‘americano coffee’ is how we think Americans like their coffee, watered down. It is basically a shot of espresso topped up with lots of hot water.

    March 8, 2014 at 4:07 am
  2. Julian

    A few points:
    -Soccer is actually a british word. It was a short way of saying ‘Association Football’, not to be confused with ‘Rugby Football’
    -Muffin is the same as in the US as mentioned before.
    -Those UK chips are actually ‘potato wedges’. Chips are like oversized french fries. The thicker ones are called ‘steak chips’.
    -Ketchup: I live in London and everyone calls it Ketchup, however the colonies (Oz, Nz, South Africa, etc) still call it ‘tomato sauce’.

    @Shannon: an ‘americano coffee’ is how we think Americans like their coffee, watered down. It is basically a shot of espresso topped up with hot water.

    March 8, 2014 at 4:04 am
  3. Luca

    This is sort of right, which shows how confusing it can all actually be. I’m British and muffin now means the same as it does in the US. I haven’t seen the other kind of muffin for a long time. The most popular kind of biscuit it the digestive which is similar to your graham cracker. Chips don’t look like those in your picture and the word is used for french fries or the thicker UK version. And to jump on the bandwagon ketchup is ketchup, although I do remember my grandmother saying tomato sauce: she would have been 100 years old now.

    March 8, 2014 at 2:33 am
  4. Maree

    I’m Australian and in food we mostly follow the British. American “scone” looks nothing like our scone but American “biscuit” does. Also, our coriander is US cilantro. Our tomato sauce is your ketchup but British tomato sauce is our passata. Go figure.

    March 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm
  5. Shannon

    We just got back from Ireland and noticed that when we asked for a cup of coffee they wanted us to specify what kind. One place said it’s called an Americano but it still seemed a little bit different then our standard black coffee.

    March 7, 2014 at 8:56 pm
  6. lvdkeyes

    Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a great puzzlement to Brits because what they call jelly is gelatine (Jello). Can you imaging a peanut butter and Jello sandwich?

    March 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm
  7. taluzgmc

    Do they serve breakfast with muffins @ McDonald’s in america.?….

    March 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm
  8. Carmen

    I’m an American living in Britain – and an avid cook. The Ketchup one is just wrong. Ketchup is ketchup, and tomato sauce is tomato sauce, in Britain as in America. It is possible that there is a regional difference (I’m in the Oxford area), but I haven’t noticed it when I go up north to visit family in Liverpool!

    March 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm
  9. Pam Parson

    I once mentioned eating biscuits and gravy to a British internet friend and made her gag ! She said all she could think about was Oreos and brown sauce :)

    March 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm
  10. Desiree

    I’m from the England, and I’m we always refer to Ketchup as Ketchup.

    March 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm
  11. Mallory Brasseale

    Love this!

    March 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm
  12. Carole

    Except for ketchup, I knew all of those, but since we call the muffin an English muffin there is that distinction. I guess I watch too much British tv. lol

    March 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

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