FAST-US-1 Intro to American English Reference File
Overview of U.S. Food Customs and Terminology



Selected Differences Between SBE and SAE

I. Overview: Traditional "typical" meals

  • Breakfast: O.J., bacon and eggs, sausage, pancakes, waffles, toast/french toast, cold cereals, oatmeal or cream of wheat, yogurt, applesauce, milk, coffee
  • Brunch: above plus bagels & lox, fruits, Danish rolls
  • Lunch: soup and sandwiches, cottage cheese, fruit
  • Sandwich types: BLT, PBJ, tuna salad, egg salad, hero, submarine, grinder, hoagy, poor-boy, "Dagwood sandwich", Reuben sandwish, corned-beef, pita
  • Dinner: fried chicken, steak, roast beef/pork, 2 vegetables (mashed potatos, corn, beans, peas, carrots, broccoli), tossed salad, cole slaw, jello "salads", dessert (apple pie [á la môde], cobbler, ice cream, cake).
  • Meal drinks: coffee, iced tea, [iced coffee], beer, wine, milk, water, soft drinks
  • Supper: hash, stew, hot sandwiches, leftovers

II. Holiday meals

  • Thanksgiving: turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, corn, beans, peas, pumpkin pie ...
  • Christmas: ham, turkey, fruitcake, mincemeat pie, Christmas stollen, egg nog, mulled wine,
  • Independence Day: picnics with hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, pickles, roasted marshmallows, potato salad, 3-bean salad, pork & beans, ice cream, pie
  • "Traditional" foods: succotash, squash, yams, sweet potatos, chili, corn bread, corn sticks, spoon bread, strawberry shortcake, fried catfish, sourdough bread

III. Food trends in recent years

  • More fast-food restaurants, McDonalds, Burger King, Col. Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken, Arby's Roast Beef, Long John Silver's seafood, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, Godfather's Pizza, Taco Bell, Roy Rogers, Orange Julius, Subway Shoppe, Au Bon Pain
  • 24-hour 'convenience' restaurants, such as Denney's, Interstate Pancake House, Howard Johnson's (HoJo)
  • Oriental restarants — take-out or dine-in
  • "Power breakfasts," "brown-bag lunches," no-host bars
  • "De-caf" coffee (and tea), more consumption of fish, grilled swordfish, etc.; rise of Mexican food dishes

IV. Vast differences in U.S. regional & ethnic food cultures

  • German, Polish, Scandinavian cultures in Midwest
  • French cuisine around New Orleans, Maine
  • Mexican/Spanish in Southwest, Florida
  • Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai in West/South
  • Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Ethiopian, etc. in East
  • Native American Indian, etc., throughout U.S.
  • Cuban, Puerto Rican, South American in Florida

Selected Main Courses

  • Meatloaf, meatballs, creamed chipped beef,
  • Ham (sugar-cured, "picnic," "rolled," "country", Virginia)
  • Spaghetti & meatballs, macaroni & cheese
  • Quiche, Turf & Surf, spareribs
  • Chicken (fried, barbequed, fricasseed, roasted, grilled)
  • Turkey (Butterball), duck, goose, lamb, pork
  • Caesar salad, Chef's salad, chicken salad, tuna salad
  • Catfish, lobster, salmon, trout, shrimp, swordfish, cod

Selected Side Dishes

  • Beans (baked, green, lima, string, wax, kidney, shell, fava)
  • Peas (green, in-the-pod, black-eyed, lentils, chickpeas)
  • zucchini, other squashes
  • corn (on the cob, whole-kernel, creamed, hominy, grits)
  • succotash (corn & lima beans together)
  • rice (white, brown, wild; steamed, creamed, boiled, fried)
  • broccoli, asparagus, okra, spinach, kohlrabi, turnips, chard
  • noodles, macaroni, dumplings, potato pancakes
  • cottage cheese, sliced fruit

Selected Soups

  • Clam chowder, chicken, chicken-noodle, black bean, pea
  • Tomato soup, creamed celery/potato soups, onion/cheese soups
  • Gumbos, jambalayas, vichyssoise, Scotch broth, shrimp bisque

Selected Desserts

  • Various pies, cakes, cobblers, cookies, puddings, custards
  • ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, brownies, fudge, mousse
  • fruit compotes, melons, baked alaska, muffins, crepes, soufflés

Party and Reception or other "Occasion" Foods

  • Hors d'oeuvres, dips, guacamole, pretzels, bread sticks, (cocktail party 'finger food')
  • chicken wings, quiches, meatballs, turkey or ham or chicken 'rolls' or 'logs'
  • frankfurters, potato chips & salad, dill pickles, french fries
  • toasted marshmallows, peanut butter fudge/brittle, popcorn balls, "s'mores"
  • frog legs, mountain oysters,

Common Ethnic Foods

  • Tortillas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, tamales, nachos
  • Knockwurst, kielbasa, sauerkraut,
  • lasagne, canneloni, pastas, manicotti, ravioli, vermicelli

African-American "Soul" Food Examples

  • Black-eyed peas and ham hocks, chitterlings, pork neck bones and sauerkraut, fried catfish, oxtail soup
  • biscuits, corn bread
  • collard greens, fried okra, grits
  • sweet potato pie

Selected Differences Between British and American Food Terms (Top)

(SBE 'equivalent' on the left; SAE 'equivalent' on the right)
  • aubergine — eggplant
  • bilberry — blueberry
  • bap — bun, roll
  • blancmange — vanilla pudding
  • candy floss — cotton candy
  • chips — french fries
  • crisps — potato chips
  • corn flour — corn starch (cf corn meal)
  • digestive biscuit — graham cracker
  • flan — pie
  • jelly — Jello (cf "jam," "gelatine")
  • joint — a beef roast, roast beef
  • marrow — squash, gourd, zucchini
  • minced meat — ground beef, hamburger (cf mincemeat!)
  • "neat" drink — "straight" drink
  • off-license — liquor store
  • pie — meat vs fruit "pie"
  • porridge — oatmeal
  • prawn — shrimp
  • scone — biscuit, roll
  • sherbet — fruit candies covered with powdered sugar
  • sorbet — sherbet
  • sweetshop — candy store
  • swede — rutabaga, turnip
  • tinned food — canned food
  • wholemeal — whole wheat, graham


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Last Updated 06 May 2010