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Learning to Speak American


my debut novel*. I had recently relocated from my home in Eng- land and while Brits and Americans speak the same language, it quickly became apparent that some things still got lost in translation. Take food for example: a veri- table minefi eld of misunderstand- ing. I was surprised to discover that ‘biscuits and gravy’ was a popular breakfast dish which contained neither biscuits nor gravy as I knew them. English ‘biscuits’ are cookies in America so what, I wondered, were these strange breakfast biscuits? The


I 22 The American


was living in Northern California’s glorious Napa Valley while I wrote


answer was a variation of what we Brits call scones, although whereas we eat them with clotted cream and jam, in the US they are served as a savoury [sic] dish with thick sausage gravy. And when I say jam I of course mean jelly and for clotted cream read sour cream if you’re American. I don’t wish to labour the point


but there was one particular occa- sion when I was served something I absolutely did not expect. On a shop- ping trip to San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus, I went to the Rotunda, took a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of champagne. The barman brought it with a basket of Yorkshire puddings.


Biscuits and gravy ...but not to a Brit © JIMSISEAS


Food, Wine and Being A Brit Abroad by Colette Dartford


Yes, Yorkshire puddings – a stalwart accompaniment to Sunday’s roast beef. Originally a much larger version of the pudding was eaten as a fi rst course with thick gravy, fi lling the stomach with low cost ingredients and saving on the more expensive meat course that followed. So why on earth was I being


given a basket of Yorkshire puddings with my champagne? The barman told me they were complimentary ‘popovers’ and though mine were plain, usually they were served with strawberry butter. The notion of Yorkshire pudding and strawberry butter (another thing I had never


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