Why do the British refer to their eggplant as an ‘aubergine’? This Canadian wants to know. Upon my arrival in the UK, I was astounded to find that the Brits not only pronounce the names of some vegetables incorrectly (e.g. tomato) but they even use the wrong words for some. Could this be their desire to seem more “continental”?
They have chosen a few vegetables at random and decided to refer to them by their French name. Imagine the Cockney market stall proprietor shouting “Zucchini my darlin?” Now replace this with “Courgette m’luv?”. Sounds infinitely more refined, doesn’t it? Oddly, in a quick check with Wikipedia, I’m told that ‘zucchini’ was given its name as it is considered to be Italian in origin. The article also mentions its use in France for the dish ratatouille. What, no courgette? A quick confirmation from the Macmillan Dictionary tells me they are indeed the same squash!
I fondly remember picking snap peas in my grandma’s garden, not waiting for them to be washed or prepared and eating them fresh from the vine. Who could imagine eating a mange tout that had not been blanched until al dente (another one for the Italians-urrà!)? Legume refinement abounds!
Filet Mignon anyone? Here the Brits have been sneakier. Instead of going for the obvious French culinary term, they have anglicised it to ‘fillet steak’. But there seems to be some confusion as to when exactly to tip one’s culinary chapeau to the French. I’ve recently been served a pancake that was clearly a crepe. If I desired one rolled and covered in some sweet citrus-flavoured sauce, I suppose I’d have to order a ‘pancake Suzette’. On the other hand, all of us over in North America refer to that staple of the fast food diet as French fries, whilst our British friends rather unceremoniously call them ‘chips’. One wonders how many food items are referred to in English by the French. At a guess, I’d say few.Email this Post