Ten Food Names in the United States and the United Kingdom

A simple glossary of gastronomic terms can be useful for anyone heading across the pond. Before choosing popular dishes and ingredients from an American or British menu, learn the interchangeable names for these dishes and ingredients.

The British word for eggplant is aubergine, which has French, Catalan, and Arabic origins. Some say the less common white varieties of the typically purple plant led to the name used in the United States, but the terms are generally interchangeable regardless of color or shape. 

Aubergine or Eggplant

English zucchini goes by courgette in England, the French word for the green gourd. The United States inherited the Italian name, and both terms reference the summer squash. Note that the word squash refers to a fruity drink in Britain, and a mature version of the courgette fruit becomes marrow. 

Courgette or Zucchini

England's gammon evolved from the French word jambon while the United States derived the term ham from the same word in Dutch and the German hamme. Both refer to the same preparation of pork, which you'll find in sandwiches and holiday centerpieces in the U.S. and pie in England. Plus the Irish jambon is a ham and cheese pastry found throughout the UK. 

Gammon or Ham

Coriander is a plant that produces a green herb like parsley. Its name comes from Spain and in Britain refers to the leaves, seeds, and stem, which are all edible. In the United States, the seeds are ground into the spice called coriander, and the leaves and stem are often served as a garnish are called cilantro. Cilantro is common in Mexican cooking as well. 

Coriander vs Cilantro

Muesli is a dish of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and fruit, often served with yogurt in Switzerland. The tradition began as an appetizer before meals, evolved into a snack and is a ubiquitous breakfast today. In England, muesli is mass produced in cereals, much like the United States' rolled oats snack, granola. In the U.S., a yogurt parfait will often include the sweetened oat, nut, and seed mixture. 

Muesli vs Granola

Both the U.S. and U.K. derived the name for this popular peppery leafy green from its Italian origin: arucula in the south and ruchetta in the north. The U.S. serves arugula (generally shortened to rucola in Italy now) in salads and as a common garnish. France adopted roquette, which evolved to rocket in England, where it's a common component of salads. 

Arugula or Rocket

In the U.S., biscuits are buttery, flaky bread pastries often served as a side or sandwich at breakfast. American cookies are baked desserts, often sweet, that range in texture and density. Hard or crisp cookies are called biscuits in the U.K. while the chewier dessert can be identified as a cookie. 

Biscuit vs Cookie

The french fries that originated in Belgium are a universal side in the U.S., with shape varieties like shoestring, waffle, and crinkly. As ubiquitous in Britain, fried potato slices or wedges are called chips unlike the thin oft-bagged snack in the States — which are crisps in England. You can't go wrong ordering all three in a British pub. 

Fries or Chips or Crisp

The Jell-O Americans use for colorful cookout snacks or party shots is called jelly in England, where the delineation between jam, marmalade, and preserves is more commonly understood. In the United States, you may find all of these terms used interchangeably for what is likely jam in the UK. 

Jam or Jelly or Jell-O

Sausage, a staple in sit-down breakfasts in the U.S. and essential element in a full English breakfast, evolved from the French saucisse and the Latin salsicus. According to the Daily Mail, Britain adopted the term banger during World War I when sausages were stuffed with more accessible ingredients like cereal and made more noise while cooking. Bangers and mash are a classic dish in the UK today. 

Sausage or Banger

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