The Best of British

The American's guide to speaking British

Food & Drink

99 - When you visit England, go up to the ice cream van and ask for a 99. You will get a cone filled with soft ice cream and a Cadbury's flake - a long crumbly stick of chocolate. Mmmm!

Afters - What's for afters? When you hear a kid say that they are asking what is for dessert. Nothing if they didn't eat their liver and greens!

Aubergine - Eggplant to you.

Bacon - You also have bacon, but one of the things I missed was British bacon. Not the fact that it comes from Britain, more the choice. You seem to have one choice - bacon. We have back, throughcut, streaky, smoked, green and dry cured. The one we call "streaky" is the cheapest as there is almost no meat on it. It is the closest to the bacon you have in the US. The most expensive is back, as it is almost all meat. Your bacon is nice and crisps up, but for the country that likes choice, it's odd that there is none.

Banger - The good old British banger is bigger and fatter than the American breakfast link sausage. It is served for dinner with fried onions and gravy, in batter as toad in the hole or for breakfast with eggs, back bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, fried potatoes, grilled tomatoes, toast and marmalade. There are also many regional sausages that combine different meats, herbs and spices. And don't forget good old Bangers and Mash.

Bap - A soft round roll, lightly floured. These are like hamburger buns in America, but also eaten as sandwiches. Yummy with bacon and egg oozing out!

Barbie - Apart from being a doll, the barbie is the grill. Either charcoal or gas fired, it's what we cook our dinner on in the 2 days that makes up a good British summer. It's full name is the barbecue. So when we say barbie or BBQ we are talking about the cooker itself not the food. If you have people around you would call the event a BBQ as well.

Beer - Normally called bitter, this is the most popular alcoholic beverage of the UK male drinking population. It is served in pints at just under room temperature (real ales, however are served AT room temperature). Real Ales are non carbonated beers made from hops and barley.

Beer mat - Pubs always serve beer on a little card coaster which advertises the brewery or beer. They make great frisbees and are used for several pub games/jokes/tricks. You'll have to come and visit to find out more.

Beetroot - This is called beet or beets in America. Here they come ready cooked normally in a little jar or in a bucket in street markets. Actually quite scrummy!

Best - "A pint of best please landlord". You should walk into a British pub and say this at the bar in your best British accent. After telling you that "you're not from round here" you will be served with a pint of fine British ale. You might find it a little warm but it grows on you.

Bevvy - If someone asks you if you want to come out for a bevvy, they are asking you to the pub for a beer. Bevvy is just short for beverage, but in this context the beverage in question is obviously of the alcoholic nature!

Bickie - Short for biscuit. Usually said by kids and means cookie where you live.

Bill - When you have finished your meal in a British restaurant or pub, ask for the bill not the check.

Biscuit - Cookie in America. Though the large home-made chocolate chip type things would also be referred to as cookies in England. We also use the word "biscuit" to mean cracker, for instance you will see "biscuits for cheese" in the supermarkets, which are assortments of crackers.

Bitter - Bitter is what we call beer. However, this is not what you call "beer" - we call that lager. Beers are the dark ales that are so popular amongst British drinkers. Served a little below room temperature, but not cold like yours.

Black pudding - Missed by Brits in America, thin or thick black pudding is one of the staples of a cooked breakfast. Looking like a black sausage it is made from pigs blood and fat. Sounds horrid, but like faggots, you should try it before passing judgement!

Blancmange - Blancmange is custard that has been made thick, and allowed to set. It is generally served as one of the layers in a trifle. The bottom layer would be sponge cake soaked in jelly, then some fruit, then the blancmange, then a layer of whipped double cream and finally a chocolate flake crumbled over the top. Yummy!

Brekkie - This is another word for your Breakfast.

Brown bread - In cheap restaurants the choice of bread may be "white" or "brown". This is our equivalent of white or wheat. If you asked for "wheat" you'd get a strange look.

Brown sauce - If you are eating all day breakfast or something similar in a pub, you are likely to be asked if you would like brown sauce. It is pretty much like steak sauce, except the last thing we would put it on is a steak - yuck! We put it on things like cooked breakfast, which is probably just as disgusting to you.

Bubble & squeak - No, this isn't what happens to you when you drink too much. Bubble & squeak is an old English breakfast dish made from frying up left over greens and potato.

Bucks fizz - Apart from being a terrible pop group, bucks fizz is a drink made from ruining champagne with orange juice - mimosa to you.

Buns - Fruit buns are made by aunties and grandmas and often served with a cuppa. It is perfectly acceptable to say "Mmmmm, nice buns Grandma".

Butty - A butty is a sandwich. The most famous butty is the chip butty. The perfect chip butty (invented in Liverpool) consists of two fairly large slices from a large white loaf, liberally buttered, layered with chips (salt and vinegar optional) and smothered in tomato sauce.

Candyfloss - Cotton candy. The same horrible sugar based fluff that you get at fairs and carnivals. Kids love it and mums hate it.

Canteen - This is a cafeteria to you chaps. Not something a soldier drinks out of!

Castor sugar - This is white sugar that is somewhere between icing sugar and granulated sugar in texture. It is very finely granulated sugar, ideal for things like meringues, where granulated is too coarse and icing is totally unsuitable (I tried it once!!). In Texas it is called superfine sugar.

Chip butty - We grew up on these in Liverpool. They are sandwiches made from white bread, buttered and filled with piping hot chips and tomato sauce!

Chip shop - Abbreviation for fish and chip shop. Also known as the "chippy" or "chipper" in some places.

Chipolata - This is a small pork sausage. About the size of those served with breakfast in places like Denny's and IHOP. Not as popular as the fat old British banger. Chipolata is also a term used by women when they are winding up their husbands about their unimpressive manhood. In this instance the emphasis is usually on the "small" sausage.

Chips - Fries to you. Fish and chips is still a favourite in Old Blighty. Whilst government health restrictions prevent them from being served in newspaper any more, they still taste best from the bag, liberally dosed in salt and malt vinegar. Not to be confused with french fries, which are weedy little poncey things for girlies!

Cider - In some parts of south west England, Cider is more popular than beer. It is made from the juice of apples, allowed to ferment and is generally more alcoholic than most beers. Around Devon and Somerset, seasoned cider drinkers are easily spotted with their distended bellies and reddened ears, cheeks and noses. Cider is famous for rotting your guts!

Clingfilm - Unless you saw the Full Monty, clingfilm is used to wrap food to keep it fresh. Plastic wrap in America. Wrapping it around your stomach is actually NOT normal in the UK!!!

Clotted cream - This cream looks a bit scary at first. It is yellow and crusty on top. It is thicker than single cream or double cream and totally delicious. It is served in blobs with cakes or spread on scones. You can ask Grandma if you can spread some on her buns quite safely! (Avoid this in America, of course).

Cocktail stick - The little wooden sticks you get in America when you leave most restaurants! Here in the UK that practice isn't very common. It seems as if it is more polite here to wander around with teeth full of spinach than it is to pick your teeth with a toothpick in public. I like the way people in the US do it at the table while they are still talking to you, but to hide it they put one hand in front of their mouth. Mmmm very attractive!

Cordial - Cordial or squash in the UK is a concentrated drink, mostly for kids. Just add water. If you are a total wimp you can try adding lime or blackcurrant cordial to a pint of lager.

Coriander - Cilantro. It took a while to figure out why coriander wasn't available in supermarkets! Now we know! This applies to the fresh sort in particular.

Cornflour - Corn starch to you.

Cornish pasty - Nothing beats a proper pasty. Sadly these days they are harder to find. Many outlets sell what they call "pastys" but they are cheap and nasty imitations. A real pasty from Cornwall, is a pastry in the shape of a half circle, filled with spiced meat and potatoes. In the old days they also had apple at one end and they were tossed down the tin mines for the miners to eat for lunch. There is still a lot of rivalry in Cornwall about who makes the best pastys and a good one is worth searching for - a meal in itself.

Cottage pie - With no cottage and no pie crust, the name is not that helpful here. It's minced beef with veggies, topped with mashed potato. yum! Not to be confused with shepherd's pie which is virtually the same but with minced lamb (no shepherds!).

Courgette - Zucchini. Asking for a zucchini in England will probably get you a puzzled look.

Crackling - The skin of the pork joint, scored with a knife, rubbed with salt and roasted so that it crunches around the outside of the meat. Fabulous!

Cream Tea - This is something you should definitely try when you visit England, particularly if you are visiting the little villages of Cornwall or the West Country. A real cream tea consists of a pot of tea, some fresh warm scones that you spread with homemade strawberry jam and top with thick, yellow, clotted cream. Delicious!

Crisps - Salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, beef, smoky bacon. Crisps are called chips in America.

Crispy duck - One thing I really missed in America was crispy duck. In almost every chinese restaurant in England this is on the menu. It is marinated roasted duck that is smashed up at the table and served in tiny, almost see-through pancakes with hoi-sin sauce and shredded cucumber and spring onions. Eaten like Fajitas it is fantastic. Not to be confused with Peking Duck, which is usually the next item on the menu here.

Crumpet - One of the oldest traditions in English foody fads is the crumpet. A cratered flat cake. Toasted and covered in butter, so that it drips into the holes, the crumpet is enjoyed at tea on a Sunday, during the winter. It is about the size and shape of an English muffin (itself recently introduced to the UK and unheard of by most Brits!). Crumpet also has another meaning. Men might refer to women as a bit of crumpet, or they might fancy some crumpet tonight. You probably get the drift!

Cuppa - Cup of Tea. Served at 4pm, sometimes with tea cakes, crumpets, biscuits or cakes. My favourite is a real cream tea which is a pot of tea with scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. Tea is also served in bed at the weekends when you wake up, Mmmmmm!

Curry - England has more than it's fair share of Indian restaurants. Anything from a korma or a bhuna to a madras or a vindaloo are amongst the favourite curries. Curry houses are one of the few places that serve alcohol (lager) after the pubs shut. Therefore it is very popular, after your 10 pints of lager, to pop next door to the curry house for 10 more pints, some poppadoms and a good curry. This mixture is perfect for churning out the infamous "pavement pizza". Use your imagination!

Digestive biscuit - These are one of the most boring biscuits you can buy in England. However, they are popular because they make the perfect cheesecake base. The nearest thing I found in Texas was Graham Crackers which are not a patch on digestives.

Dish up - Sit at the table everyone - I'm about to dish up. This means you are about to serve dinner.

Doner - Short for a doner kebab. The closest thing in the US is a gyro. Kebabs in England, whether shish (meat on a skewer) or a doner (lamb on vertical spit), are served in split pitta bread with salad. There is a whole culture difference between the clean living shopping mall gyro and the greasy doner. Whilst the gyro is available all day and all evening and enjoyed by everyone, the doner is generally sold after 11pm in England to young males, after the pubs close and after 8 or so pints of lager. Usually served with extra hot fresh chilli sauce and on greaseproof paper so the oil is funnelled back onto your trousers, it is usually enjoyed standing up.

Double cream - This is even thicker than single cream and is also served with desserts, tarts etc. We didn't find cream this thick in Texas, even in dairy farms.

English muffin - No such thing. Nobody seems to know why these are called this. Until recently, they were not available in England. Even now that some supermarkets stock them, most Brits think they are things you get in America. And they think they are big fluffy things! Cause we're not big on muffins either.

Entree - Appetizer. You guys really got this one mixed up. You talk about the main course being the entree and the first course being the appetizer. Clearly this is the use of a French word, but sadly, in the wrong place. In France and the rest of Europe, the entree is the appetizer, not the main course. The clue is in the name!

Faggot - Never knock faggots until you have tried them! They are a traditional British delicacy. Made by many butchers, they are meatballs wrapped in a casing of intestine. Delicious! The best known commercial brand is Brains Faggots - eat them with gravy.

Fairy cake - This not a cake for effeminate men, it is a cupcake.

Fillet - A fillet steak in English is a filet mignon in American. Same thing and as far as I can tell, same price, 10 quid a pound in Tesco or 15 bucks a pound in Albertson's. Pronounced "Fill It".

Fish and chip shop - Since I was a kid and stopped off at the chip shop with the Boy Scouts after swimming, until tonight where I picked up a meal for wifey and I, the chip shop has been an important part of the British culinary experience. Mimicked badly on your side of the water nothing beats a good bag of Cod'n'chips, some mushy peas and a saveloy. Bloody marvellous!

Fish cake - Fish cakes in the UK are served in restaurants rather like they are in the US, made from nice fish, with a little salad and a fancy berry sauce as a starter. However, ask most Brits what a fish cake is and they will tell you it is something you get at the chip shop, because it's easier to eat with your fingers than a piece of cod and cheaper too!

Flake - One thing I really missed was British chocolate. It's different to Hersheys. When we weakened, we sneaked down to Fiesta International Supermarket and splashed out on "The crumbliest, flakiest, milk chocolate in the world" as the TV ad says. Cadbury's Flake is fabulous - try some of our chocolate when you visit. You might like it!

Garibaldi - All kids know Garibaldi biscuits as "squashed fly biscuits". They are small hard biscuits with currants embedded in them that look just like squashed flies. Luckily they taste better than that.

Gateau - This is a cake, but not any old cake. A gateau should be large and rich and probably brimming with fresh cream. Normally served in slices on special occasions.

Gherkin - A gherkin is a pickle to you. Not as popular in England as they are in the US.

Golden Syrup - This is something you don't appear to have in the US - it is a ridiculously thick syrup used for sticky puddings and desserts. The closest I found was corn syrup, which is a good alternative. Strangely it features in treacle pudding, which seems to have no treacle in it!

Granary - This is a kind of malted, brown bread with whole grains in it. Very popular here in Blighty and damned well worth trying.

Gravy - A brown sauce made from the meat juices when you roast a joint. It is never white, nor made from flour and milk. We call the gravy you find in the southern states "white sauce".

Grill - We say grill when you say broil.

Grub - This is another word for food (hence pub grub) as well as being the larval stage of an insects development. Therefore care is required when ordering!

Haggis - One of the best known and most misunderstood Scottish inventions. Haggis is made from offal and grain and is held together in a sheep's stomach. It can be grilled, fried, or boiled whole. It is absolutely delicious and is traditionally served with neaps and tatties (turnips and mashed potato).

Herb - Herb. The only difference is we pronounce the "H". It got confusing when, having learnt to drop the "H" when talking about the food variety, I met someone called Herb and said "Hi Urb". apparently there is a little inconsistency here!

Hob nobs - One of the more popular British biscuits.

Horlicks - This malted milk drink has been around for years. It is supposed to make you relax in the evening and sleep well. Hence the old joke "Twelve children? Have you never heard of Horlicks?"

Hot pot - My Mum used to make good old Lancashire hot pot. Basically it is a kind of one-pot stew that is made with lamb with sliced potatoes on top, that go a bit crunchy. Yummy!

HP Sauce - This is pretty close to your A1 sauce. The main difference is we would not dream of putting it on a steak, we put it on breakfast - cooked, that is (not cornflakes!!).

Iced tea - In England there was no such thing as iced tea. Tea is only drunk hot and Brits are quite adamant about the way they do it. As we left the UK in 1996 there were canned varieties of iced tea starting to appear in supermarkets but I doubt you'd get a glass if you asked for one in a restaurant. You'd probably get a blank stare. We brought about 50 customers to Texas on a business trip and when they arrived after a VERY long trip to the 100 degree Texan weather, the hotel kindly laid on a buffet with 50 glasses of iced tea already poured. Thinking this was some soft drink, and being extremely hot and bothered the customers all took big gulps and then simultaneously spat 50 mouthfuls of it across the table. That sort of explains what Brits think of iced tea. (It was very funny - you should have seen the catering manager's face).

Icing sugar - You call this confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar. When we worked in Kipling's cake factory as students we often got covered in icing sugar when the machines belched clouds of it into the air. An important lesson in removing it from your hair was to have a bath, NOT a shower as it turned into icing when mixed with water and the shower just could not provide enough water to get rid of it!

Jacket potato - Baked potato in America. Also referred to as "potatoes in their jackets", meaning their skins, not little tuxedos!

Jaffa cake - These yummy little things are a little cake filled with orange jam and topped with chocolate. Very popular with kids.

Jam - Jelly. Not to be confused with jelly of course - which you call "jell-o"!

Jellied eels - In the east end of London, these are a local tradition and delicacy. As the name suggests they are simply eels, cooked and left to set in their own jelly. Yuck!

Jelly - Jell-o to you. Though jelly is not a brand name - it is the generic name for that rubbery stuff that kids like. Jell-o shots are not seen in the UK like they are in the US. I thought it was really odd to find it for sale near bars and generally adult type places. Soon found out why though!

Joint - Either something containing wacky backy that you smoke to get high, or a piece of meat that is roasted on a Sunday with roast spuds, roast parsnips, veggies and gravy. Like roast leg of pork and crackling. Mmmmmmmm!

Kedgeree - A wonderful dish of smoked haddock, eggs and rice. Still served in some hotels, generally for breakfast.

Kipper - A smoked herring. Kippers are very popular eaten hot with breakfast or cold with a salad.

Lager - Sort of what you call beer. Usually a bit stronger and drunk from pint glasses rather than bottles. Served cold, but not that cold. American beer is not normally considered a manly drink by British males. In the Epcot Centre in Florida, one of my American friends visited the "British Pub" where he ordered a pint of Guinness and his wife ordered a pint of "whatever was closest to American beer". The English waiter merrily brought his Guinness and for her - a pint of water!

Lager lout - This famous British invention is male, between 18 and 23 and usually visits foreign football matches to make trouble, beat people up and vandalise the place. Also available in other European flavours (e.g. Dutch).

Lemonade - Lemonade in England is a clear, sparkling, lemon flavoured drink that is either drunk as it is or added to lager to make shandy. Seven-up and sprite would both qualify as lemonade in England.

Liver sausage - I still remember my Mum cutting thick slices of liver sausage and grilling it with bacon and black pudding and serving it with eggs, tomatoes and sausages for breakfast - yummy! I have heard it called liverwurst in America.

Marmite - Described as "salty tractor grease" this spread is made from the yeast gunk they scoop out of beer vats when they are finished with them. You may have heard of Vegemite in Australia which is almost the same thing. Definitely an acquired taste. Usually used in sarnies with cheese.

Mash - Pie and mash, bangers and mash. All good pub favourites. Simply short for mashed potato.

Mince - In English this is ground beef (or other meat). Mincing is also the way that certain effeminate men walk!

Mince Pies - At Christmas time we make mince pies. They are small pies filled with mincemeat and topped off with cream or served hot with brandy butter. Mincemeat - Mincemeat is a sweet product made from dried fruit and suet (a dry form of beef fat) and is used as a filling for mince pies, eaten at Christmas with brandy butter.

Mushy peas - An English tradition. Mushy peas are reconstituted dried peas that go all mushy. They are often served with fish and chips, or on their own with mint sauce.

Neat - If you are in the pub and you ask for your drink neat, it means it comes with nothing added. You might ask for it straight.

Normal - When you order a soda in the US you often get asked if you would like "diet" or "regular". If we were asked the question at all here you would be asked "diet" or "normal". This generally applies to the times you would use regular. Slightly amusingly the question "diet or regular" to a Brit would translate into something like "are you on a diet or are you regular on the toilet". We use the regular to mean going to the loo every day, so please be careful how you use the word in the UK.

Nosh - This is simply another word for food. If you were going out for some nosh it would mean you were going to get some lunch or dinner at a restaurant. Posh nosh is what you get at expensive restaurants.

Nosh-up - This means a feast.

Offal - In English supermarkets you will see a sign in the meat aisle with "offal" on it. In Texas it is referred to as organ meat - yuck! In the UK we love it. The most common offal is liver and kidney. My American friends tell me that offal is not eaten in the US. Maybe they should check out the ingredients of their hot dogs!

Off licence - Beer, wine and spirits are sold in supermarkets in England, though the off licence still thrives. It is the place that you go to buy all of these items in the same way that you would from a liquor store in the US. Also called the "offy".

Pancake roll - Otherwise known as a spring roll here or egg roll in the US. No matter what you call them, if you buy one from a take-away you can be guaranteed it will pour boiling hot fat down your chin as you bite into it! Yikes!

Parkin - A sweet heavy cake made with treacle. Often served on bonfire night.

Parsley sauce - This is just a white sauce - like your southern gravy with chopped fresh parsley in it. Sometimes served with ham or fish.

Parson's nose - I have no idea why this is called the parson's nose, it is the tail of the chicken or turkey and very popular with Dads for no apparent reason. Not many parsons I know who would have their nose up there!

Pastry base - Crust to you.

Pea fritter - Well I just got back from the chip shop and realised I had forgotten to add pea fritters to this list. It is made from mushy peas, rolled into a ball, covered in batter and deep fried. Excellent as part of a calorie controlled diet!

Peckish - If you are a little peckish it means you are hungry and need to nibble at something.

Perry - Perry tastes a lot like our cider. That's because it is made the same way except instead of apples, they use pears. Just as alcoholic and just as likely to make you fall over.

Pickle - No such thing in America. Visit any English home and say "bring out the Branston" - they will bring you a jar of brown, lumpy, spicy pickle. It is made from vegetables, spices & vinegar and is quite thick. It is eaten with cold meats, cheeses and pies. There is even a less lumpy version for sarnies! Branston is the name of the market leader in pickle. Don't visit England without trying it.

Pickled eggs - Pubs and Chip Shops are the best places to find these things. Not my favourite food, they are what they say there are - eggs that have been hard boiled and pickled. Think through the consequences of eating one of these things!! Best avoided before a long flight!

Pickled onions - These little onions are a staple part of the British diet. Every kitchen has a jar in the cupboard or the fridge and many people still make their own. Peeled little shallots in pickling vinegar and eaten with cheese and salads. These days they also come with chilli and other hot spicy things to blow your head off.

Pie - This word is more of a subtle difference in usage. Unless specified otherwise, a pie would default to a meat pie with a pastry lid. Of course, we still have apple pies and the like. Pie's always have lids. No lid - no pie! We call that a tart.

Pimms - Another English tradition. Pimms is a liquor that you mix with lemonade in a tall glass with slices of apple, orange and cucumber and some fresh mint leaves. It is a summer, outside sort of drink that people drink at home and at the races, Wimbledon, Ascot, Henley etc. It is fairly alcoholic.

Pint - You would ask your mates if they wanted to come to the pub for a pint. In this instance it means any form of beer or cider that could be purchased in quantities of one pint. The British pint is bigger than the pint in the US. 20oz rather than 16oz, demonstrating that not everything is bigger and better in Texas!

Plonk - Normally you hear someone talking about "cheap plonk". Under £3 would probably get you cheap plonk, you need to pay a bit more to get decent wine. "Cheap plonk" suggests that the wine is not only cheap, but nasty too.

Ploughman's Lunch - You'll see these in pubs on the menu at lunchtime. Basically it's a chunk of cheese, some pickle, a pickled onion and a hunk of (hopefully) nice bread. Sometimes the cheese will be substituted with a piece of home baked ham.

Pop - Soda. Actually we don't really have a word for soda, we are more likely to ask if you want a coke, meaning any fizzy drink. In the north, you will hear people talking about pop or fizzy pop which has the same meaning as soda, but it is rarely used in other areas. "Pop" is also used frequently in Canada and in some parts of the US.

Pork pies - In central England, there is a little town called Melton Mowbray. The only notable thing about Melton is that it is the home of the very British pork pie. Even the Queen has been to the little pork pie shop in Melton. They are made from crusty pastry with a filling of minced pork. Cooked with secret ingredients. It is eaten cold with pickle.

Pork scratchings - In pubs, there are always bags of crisps and pork scratchings. In America they are called pork rinds.

Porridge - This has two meanings. The first is cooked oatmeal that you would have for breakfast. The second is doing time in prison.

Pub grub - Pubs that do food will often advertise "pub grub" outside on a sign. It just means pub food. These days lots of pubs do decent food, not just sausage, egg and chips! Useful when travelling around the UK as we don't have restaurants lining the streets like so much of the US.

Pudding - Dessert of any type is called pudding. What you call pudding is called banana custard in England. There are also some brands of kids dessert called Instant Whip and Angel Delight which closely resemble American "pudding", but we don't have a generic term for these.

Rasher - You have to have a couple of back rashers with a proper English breakfast. You would call them slices of bacon.

Rump steak - This is what you call sirloin steak. And if that isn't confusing enough - our sirloin steak is your porterhouse!

Runner beans - String beans to you.

Salad cream - One of the worst British inventions has got to be salad cream. It is supposed to be a salad dressing of sorts but it is more like yellow ketchup with a sour vinegary flavour. The only saving grace is that it is pretty good in coleslaw.

Sarny - Sandwich. Sarnies again for lunch!

Saveloy - The saveloy is a rather odd kind of sausage. Similar to a long hot dog sausage, it is generally found in fish and chip shops, heated in hot water and served with chips as an alternative to fish (or in my case, an addition!)

Savoury - In some cafes and tea shops you might see savouries on the menu or the black board. This is just a term for pastries that are savoury rather than sweet. They might have cheese, or meat in them, like Cornish pasties for example.

Scoff - This word is both a verb and a noun, both related. If you were off home for some scoff you would be on your way for some food. However you might then scoff it down - meaning to eat it!

Scones - These look like your biscuits but must ONLY be eaten with clotted cream and strawberry jam. If you are ever lucky enough to encounter real scones (with or without currants), in England or on a British Airways flight, cut the scone in half and spread the jam on each half, top it off with the cream and enjoy it WITH a cup of tea. No other method is permitted or forgivable. Most arrests of American tourists are for eating Scones the wrong way!

Scotch egg - Horrid, though they are, I actually like scotch eggs! They are hard-boiled eggs surrounded in a half-inch layer of sausage meat and coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Then you eat them cold at picnics!

Scrumpy - I grew up on scrumpy. It is rough cider. It tastes pretty harmless but after a pint or two stand back and wait for your legs to collapse. Best to buy it from a cider farm in somerset or that end of the country. Though some pubs do sell something pretty close these days.

Semi skimmed - 2% to you! Took me ages to figure out that our semi skimmed milk was the same as your 2% milk or low fat milk.

Semolina - Kids love semolina here like they love cream of wheat in the US. It's the same thing!

Shandy - Generally lager and lemonade. However, bitter shandy and cider shandy are also popular, especially with drivers or at lunchtimes. (Hint for Brits - when explaining to a US barman how to make a Shandy - don't ask for lager and lemonade - he won't have any idea what you are talking about and the result is likely to be disgusting. Ask for beer and sprite, then wait for the laughter and funny looks).

Shepherd's pie - Originally made from leftovers, this is not a true pie, nor does it contain any shepherds! It is minced lamb, cooked with some veggies and topped with mashed potato (sometimes with cheese) on top and grilled till brown. Not to be confused with Cottage Pie which is almost the same, but with minced beef.

Simnel cake - This is the traditional British Easter cake. It is a heavy fruit cake with a thick layer of marzipan right through the centre. There is marzipan on the top too plus usually balls or chicks made from marzipan decorating the top. Excellent with a cuppa.

Single cream - This cream is used for pouring on cakes and pies and is best served poured over apple pie. Single cream can be whipped to make it stiff for topping cheesecakes etc. The nearest thing to this in Texas is heavy whipping cream, sadly.

Sirloin steak - This is what you call porterhouse. And if that isn't confusing enough - our rump steak is your sirloin!

Skimmed milk - Skim milk in America. So what happened to the "ed" bit? It seems like a grammatical error to leave it off, but then you say things like "write me" instead of "write to me", which would also lose you marks in an English exam here. But then what would we know about English?

Soldiers - We dip soldiers in our soft boiled eggs. They are not actually men in uniform. They are finger sized slices of toast.

Spirits - Liquors. The 40% alcohol drinks. Not usually drunk in pints!

Spotted dick - Not actually a medical complaint, spotted dick is a suet pudding with dried fruit and is an excellent pudding in winter with custard.

Spring onions - You call these salad onions or green onions or even scallions.

Spring roll - See pancake roll.

Squash - This is a sweet, fruit and sugar based drink for kids. It comes in concentrated form in big bottles that you just add water to. Similar in idea to the frozen limeade-type drinks in the US.

Starter - As well as being part of a car (usually coupled with the word "motor") this is what we call the appetizer on a menu. The more upmarket restaurants would use the word "entree", the French word for the first course of a meal.

Steak & kidney pie - This is another traditional English dish. Kidney is not popular in the US so try it when you visit. It won't kill you, honest!

Steak & kidney pudding - This is variation of the traditional pie. On a cold winter evening there is nothing better. It is steak and kidney in a thick, soft, suet pastry crust. Absolutely divine.

Stock cube - The cheats way to make gravy is to use a stock cube. You'd call it a bouillon cube. Either way it's cheating!

Stodge - Stodge means heavy food - a lot like we used to get at school in the old days. These days our schools serve much better food, though we still haven't gone as far as you guys with letting the franchises in.

Stone - Don't be surprised if a Brit tells you there is a stone in his peach or prune. That's what we call a pit.

Stuffed - When you have had enough to eat it is quite acceptable to tell everyone that you are stuffed. It means you are full. When I said that at a dinner party in Texas I got some very strange looks - apparently it has other meanings there.

Suet - Suet is a fairly dry white beef fat. It is rubbed into flour as a base for many puddings. Sweet and savoury.

Sweets - Either another word for dessert or also the candies you give to kids. Scary old men in films say "Would you like a sweetie, little girl?".

Swiss roll - Jelly roll to you chaps.

Take-away - This word has several meanings. First it is the place that only sells food to take out. You might go to the take-away for an Indian or Chinese. If you got a take-away for dinner it would mean the meal itself. Also if you go to a restaurant where you can choose where you eat it then you would be asked if you want to "eat in or take away". You would say here or to go.

Tarts - If you flirt with members of the opposite sex you could be described quite legitimately as a tart. If you are a pastry base with jam or fruit topping you would also be a tart. But in this instance you may have cream or custard poured over you!

Tea - One of the English classics. Tea is either a drink made from tea leaves (loose in a pre warmed pot), boiling water, served in china cups, milk first and at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Or tea is the name for the meal served early evening, nowadays by Grandma and Grandad since most modern folk eat dinner at about 7:30pm or later.

Tin - We seem to have two words for a can of food. You could say a tin of beans or a can of beans and they would mean exactly the same.

Toad in the hole - You may see this on the menu in a pub or restaurant. It is basically Yorkshire pudding or batter with sausages embedded in it. It's not special but it is cheap to make.

Tomato sauce - Ketchup to you chaps - though we use both names here.

Treacle pudding - There's nothing nicer than a hot, steaming treacle pudding on a cold winter night. Smothered in custard and without a single calorie! Well maybe I lied about the last bit. Treacle pudding is a steamed pudding, eaten for dessert with a runny syrup topping.

Twiglets - These are an important part of the British culinary culture. They look and feel like little sticky twigs, though they are really a snack with a strange marmite tang - hence the stickiness. Try them when you visit.

Vacuum flask - A vacuum flask is a thermos to you. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. I have an ice cream and some coffee in mine. Not!

Water - This is a tricky one. The word is the same in both languages (at least as far as the spelling goes). However, when I asked a waitress for water once, she told me they didn't have any! In Texas you should ask for WAAH DUR! In one embarrassing incident I said to a salesman in a washing machine shop "Is water metered here?". He said he didn't know and went to see if he worked in different department. When he came back he said there was nobody called Walter Metered working in the shop!

White - When someone in the UK asks you how you take your tea or coffee you should say "black", "white without" or "white with". White means with milk and the "with" and "without" bit refers to the sugar. I have mine white with one. When I first told a waitress in Texas I wanted my coffee "white with", she said "with what - milk?". Think about it!

White sauce - This is called gravy in Texas. It is made from flour, butter and milk.

Wine gums - These are a kind of sweet that are made from the same stuff as Gummi-bears. They are bigger and round and very useful for shutting the kids up for about an hour!

Yorkshire pudding - You may see this on the menu in a pub or restaurant. It is a light batter that rises when it is cooked. In pubs you will sometimes see huge ones that rise at the edges to form a sort of bowl. The middle can be filled with anything from sausages and beans, to soup or stew. Worth a try if they look good. Traditionally, smaller Yorkshire puds are served with roast beef, as an accompaniment with horseradish sauce and gravy, roast spuds and veggies. Quite yummy. Apparently called pop-overs in some parts of the US.