By Judy Prince


When dear Rodent said, “I fancy a crumpet,” I realized for the first time that I had fallen in love with A Foreign Person.

How could I tell this darling brilliant man, this magnet of my heart, that he sounded like Mary Poppins?

Instead, I asked, “What’s a crumpet?” Thus ensued five minutes of UK/USA comparisons of biscuits, cookies, pancakes, flapjacks, bread, toast and crackers. I concluded: “OK, a crumpet is an English muffin.”

Then Rodent said, “I’m feeling peckish,” and I maidenly blushed—until I found out that “peckish” means hungry (something to do with chickens?).

Rodent not only talks funny about food, he eats funny, too. On our first date I didn’t notice how oddly he ate because after he’d taken several bites and stopped to talk, I said, “Are you going to finish your spaghetti?” and commandeered his plate.

Many meals later, though, I could see that Rodent handles his cutlery like a pro—-a really strange pro. Three times a day, he performs food surgery at the dining table, and I get to watch, fascinated.

Rodent’s a cutlery wizard. He never puts down his knife and fork, never shifts them from hand to hand. He slices sausages, broccoli and potatoes into tidy bits and knifely smooshes them onto his fork in layered packets. The more food groups on the plate, the more layered the packets.

“Does everybody in the UK eat like this?” I asked.

“I suppose so. What other way is there?”

Clearly, he hadn’t been watching me, bowl in hand, spooning up my meal like one big stew.

Which brings us to the Spoon Conspiracy and the Eyes Down Conspiracy.

There’s a kind of cutlery conspiracy going on in the UK, but like other grand old conspiracies, the perps’ progeny have forgotten why they’re conspiring. Actually, it’s more of a discrimination than a conspiracy. People in the UK have an unconscious hatred—or fear—of spoons. And, being UKers, they don’t talk about it (thus, the Eyes Down Conspiracy).

My first night out with dear Rodent’s grownup kids, we dined at a terrific Thai restaurant. It became evident that spoons were outcasts or outlaws in the hierarchy of eating implements. They were brought only with some of the “puds” (i.e., puddings, meaning desserts).

Before we ate, and seeing no spoon at my plate, I raised my hand to signal the server. Instantly, Rodent and his children cast their eyes down, not really focusing on anything in particular. They were apparently occupied with some thought or feeling.

The server, smiling, came quickly, and Rodent and his children looked up courteously. I asked the server for a spoon, at which everybody looked down again until she returned with one.

I said to the server, “This is a tablespoon. Could you please bring me a teaspoon—a smaller spoon?” All eyes went down again until she returned with a smaller spoon and took away the tablespoon.

“What’s up with this no-spoon thing?” I asked Rodent.

“We don’t need them—-except sometimes for puds.”

“But how do you scoop up food juices and gravies and such?”

“It just isn’t a problem,” he said.

When I pushed the topic further, he said, “Hmmmm…..I guess sometimes we use bits of bread to soak them up.” And that was that.

The meal had been fabulous, but I couldn’t finish mine, so I stuck my hand up for the server. All eyes cast down until she appeared. I said, “Could you please bring me a doggie bag?” All eyes down.

I had to explain to the confused server what a doggie bag was (apparently UK restaurants don’t do doggie bags), and several minutes later she brought a brown bag and a plastic bag. My loading the food into the brown bag caused considerable anguish for Rodent and his kids whose eyes had to be down for the entire uncomfortable procedure. With no eye contact going on, I found it impossible to talk until after I’d loaded the doggie bag.

The next time we had a night out with Rodent’s kids I considered taking a spoon, but refrained. This time we were at a huge, busy Chinese restaurant. It proved the best possible place for an extraordinary Eyes Down event.

Once fitted out with two spoons next to my chopsticks, I tucked into the chicken-cashew entrée—-and came up with a spoonful containing a little blue square ceramic tile.

“Good God! Look at this! I could’ve broken a tooth on it!” I passed my spoon to Rodent who inspected it with shock and horror and passed it along to his kids.

My hand shot up for the server. All eyes cast down. I felt betrayed. Wouldn’t any of the family come to my defense? Did I have to handle this all alone? Would any of them ever look up so I could see their expressions? Why wouldn’t anyone look at anyone? And why didn’t anybody talk?

The server appeared and I showed her the ceramic tile on my spoon. I had to repeat that it might have chipped my tooth or even caused me to choke to death. She excused herself and said she’d be right back.

She returned with the manager who solicitously listened to me and gave considerable thought to the situation. At last he pronounced: “We are so sorry for what happened. We don’t know how it happened, and it never has happened before. Of course, you’ll not be charged for your meal, and we will bring you another entrée of your choice.”

Everybody at the table was happy now. We talked about my “free” meal and how delicious their entrees were, and I was delighted with my replacement dish, an abundant helping of crispy duckling which I couldn’t finish.

I signaled for the server. Eyes Down.

She came (Eyes Up), and I said, “Could you bring me a doggie bag?”

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JUDY PRINCE, a retired college teacher and union activist, now lives half the year in Norfolk, Virginia, and the other half in Darlington, UK.  She has published articles in the L.A. Times and the Virginian-Pilot, and was a Chicago Dramatists Short Plays Competition finalist.   She is now at work on a play about Shakespeare the woman, and recently launched Frisky Moll Press with the poetry pamphlets of Robin Hamilton (Anacreon translations) and Patrick McManus (On The Dig).   Her own poetry pamphlets have been published by Phantom Rooster Press (2006 and 2009). Prince's work is included in the first James Kirkup Memorial Poetry Competition Anthology (Red Squirrel Press, UK, 2010). Her Poems2 is reviewed in SPHINX 12, HappenStance Press .

122 responses to “Eatiquette”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Judy, this is so awesome I could hardly make it to the end before replying. I have long been fascinated with the way Europeans work the ol’ cutlery during meals. To the point that the last time I was there, I made a conscious effort to do the same. But I just don’t have the skills. I’m a one-utensil-at-a-time eater. I may be a savage, but it works for me! I don’t feel nearly as bad now. 🙂

    • Judy Prince says:

      Joe, I gave up trying to work the ol’ cutlery like Rodent does. For one thing, I’d have to practice working the ol’ fork in the ol’ left hand for the entire meal—-not gonna happen unless I go full-time to UK Eating School or something. Not to mention engineering those little layered packets!

      Prob is I don’t fit in as a Proper USAmerican eatiquetter either: I pre-cut up stuff, put it in one bowl and eat it with a spoon no matter what it is. It makes Japanese sushi chefs go nuts to watch their lovely creations along with the seaweed salad go into my soup. Now nobody’ll want to have dinner with me! Well, at least you don’t feel bad now, Joe. You made me feel better, too!

      • Anon says:

        Miss Judy, I would dine with you anywhere… as long as you picked up the tab (;. If we go Dutch, I would still dine with you just about anywhere.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Anon, your signals from the doghouse are stilling coming in—do you really wanna dine with me? I’m not big on kibbles n bits.

          Seriously, (if that were possible) I appreciate your kindness and understanding, if not your cheapness. Yeah, I feel strongly that folks ought to share dining expenses equally—that is, men pay for the meal and women enjoy their having paid for it. Only fair, I think. [whispers….don’t tell dear Rodent I said that bcuz we alternate paying for meals and we split grocery costs in half]

        • Anon says:

          I have apparently been granted a pardon – no kibble needed (though the liver-n-beef is suprisingly tasty and my teeth have never been whiter). I like your take on expense-sharing though, since I would prefer to avoid further incarceration, will not share my typically inappropriate views on the matter. Woof!

        • Judy Prince says:

          HA! Anon, you put a whole new spin on “bite me”. You must admit that white teeth are nothing to sniff at.

          I hope the whole leash-lashed experience was instructive to you, Agent—I mean Anon. We sent flea powder in a envelope, but well we didn’t want to terrify your wife (the other one) and your letter carrier, so we put the envelope under the doghouse door. I’m itching to find out if you got it.

        • Anon says:

          Sigh. Dammit, woman, I’m just chasing my tail trying to keep up with your wit! Time to go home….

        • Judy Prince says:

          HOO HA, Anon! Good one!

  2. Don Mitchell says:

    I’ll never forget the time (the only time) I sat at High Table in a faculty dining room at the Australian National University, wearing the one-size-fits-all black gown made ready for idiot Americans who didn’t travel with their academic kit.

    The array of silverware in front of me was frightening. There must have been 10 or 12 implements.

    All I could do was remember what my mother told me years before: start from the outside and work in.

    No one laughed, so I guess that was acceptable behavior.

    Years ago I asked for chopsticks in an upscale Thai restaurant in Ithaca and was icily told “Thai food is not eaten with chopsticks.” Recently, at a good Thai place in Hilo, a member of my party asked for chopsticks. Eyes Down on my part, but the server was kind, asking “Would anyone else like them?”

    • Judy Prince says:

      You mean you don’t travel with your gown and mortarboard, Don?! 😉

      I’d love it if all academics wore kilts! At least there’d be something unboring to do for the audience. heh heh

      Egad, Australians must do some fancy foodwork—-I only ever see a fork and a knife at my plate in the UK. Dear Rodent may have to take me to a truly upscale eatery. Not a bad idea since I haven’t yet had fish n chips. 😉 I’ll wait for David Wills to give us a nod about fish n chips and HAGGIS!

      Fortunately, before I met my now daughter-in-law, whose father is native Thai, I’d found out that Thais don’t use chopsticks. I imagine the servers, like yours in Hilo, get lots of requests from USAmericans for chopsticks; it’s a natural mistake.

      Took me years of (admittedly, interrupted) chopsticks practice to learn fairly well how to use them—-if they’re wood and not slippery plastic. They really are the simplest, most practical utensil. But usually the food’s been cut up before cooking. A wonderful Taiwanese friend visited us in America, and I watched her eat half a chicken (KFC!) using only a chopstick, never her hands, and she picked those bones clean! Awesome.

  3. Irene Zion says:


    English muffins here in the USA are nothing like genuine crumpets.
    When my kids were around and about, I made crumpets from scratch.
    You need these weird circles of stainless steel to put the batter in.
    (Sort of like a tuna can with the top and bottom cut off?)
    But you need lots of them, if you have 5 kids and they all have friends over for the weekend.
    You put a cookie tin down and fill it with these filled circles and bake them,
    and before you have the second batch baked, they’re all eaten and kids are clamoring for more.
    The crumpets are golden and they have a lovely sponginess that is full of little holes.
    You put butter and jam or honey on them and you might as well be in heaven.
    Not like English muffins.
    Nope, not at all.

    • Judy Prince says:

      That definitely sounds delicious, Irene. I’ve only had the supermarket prepackaged English muffins in the UK, so prolly didn’t have a “true” crumpet, the homemade kind or even restaurant kind.

      My cooking/baking skills are so nonmainstream I doubt I’d make the crumpets the way you did. I never follow recipes and substitute most ingredients for other ones. My Dad was a baker, my Mom a cake decorator, so I helped and absorbed lots of info and techniques that make it easier for me to do crazy food. Tonight I’m eating a me-made quick bread: carob powder, buckwheat flour, butter-sauteed pecans, minced dried apricots, raisins, pear juice and 100% peach jam. All fruit, no sugar, little fat, no grain—-and I love it!

  4. Irene Zion says:

    By the bye, I prefer eating almost everything with chopsticks.
    I only do it at home, though, because I embarrass my family too much.
    When there’s liquid, you just pick up the bowl and drink it.
    (You’ve already eaten all the pieces.)
    I like to cook with them too.
    last time I was in Japan I found teflon cooking chopsticks.
    One had a little spoon at the other end and the other had a little spatula at the other end.
    They are so damn cute, I got them for all or some of the kids, I forget.
    I don’t think anyone uses them.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Irene, I’d love to wear those teflon chopsticks in my hair—-wotta decorative hair thingie!

      Hey, me too with the eating everything with chopsticks…..at one time, that is. And me too with the embarrassing family and friends, so I just gave it up. Had gotten to the point, though, (brags) of eating spaghetti with them and even a bowlful of peanuts. Ah, those were the days!

      • Irene Zion says:

        But, Judy, spaghetti and peanuts, (separately,) are the perfect food for chopsticks!
        People just won’t open up their minds to it.
        (Actually spaghetti and peanuts together could be pretty good with the right ingredients….)

        • Judy Prince says:

          Now I think about it, you’re right, Irene. Friends in Taiwan told me that they learned how to use chopsticks by picking up little pieces of paper. Most of the men I observed eating at the street-side restaurants had their bowl an inch from their mouth so that the chopsticks weren’t doing much more than shoving the food into their mouths. The Mandarin Chinese word for chopsticks is pronounced “KWAI-dzuh”, the first syllable like the first syllable of “quiet”, and the second syllable….well…. hmmm….

          BTW, what is NOT good with spaghetti! Or peanuts?

        • Erika Rae says:

          Kinsfolk! I, too, prefer to eat my spaghetti with chopsticks. Actually, anything with long noodles – regardless of the ethnicity. I like to eat all Chinese food with chopsticks, but admittedly have a little trouble with the rice in the US. When I lived in Hong Kong, it was expected that you would pick up the little rice bowl and scoop it into your mouth with chopsticks right over the lip of the bowl. Here, you put your food on a giant plate, let the sauces mix, and the rice isn’t right for chopsticks anymore. Aggravating. But spaghetti – perfect!

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Holy crap – you just reminded me that I’m supposed to meet someone for pho tomorrow! Glad I looked at the comment column. Thanks.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Erika, why is it that Irene and you and I prefer spaghetti-eating with chopsticks?

          Were there baudz or jaudz (steamed or fried dough-wrapped cabbage/pork little thingies) in Hong Kong? They’re awesomely delicious! The Thai counterpart is called shu mai.

  5. Irene Zion says:

    You know what happens when I try to take something home from a restaurant, Judy?
    Victor eats it instead.
    He might not even like it, but he doesn’t want to take food home very often.
    He’ll take a half a pizza home, but he counts that as different for some reason.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Did Victor come to you with a Victor Explanation Sheet, Irene? I mean, I’m already confused! It must’ve taken you years to figure out what he does and doesn’t do. I blame his mother. I always blame Rodent’s mother, too, for everything. Fact that she’s dead is no deterrent. Actually, lately, I must confess, I’ve decided it’s much easier just to blame dear Rodent for everything that happens that I don’t like. He seems quite satisfied with that. Less confusing, I guess. He’s a total sweetie!

  6. Irene Zion says:

    Whatever instructions there had been were destroyed before I got my hands on him.
    He’s just a mystery now.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Dare I say, Irene, in response to your incredible statement: “He’s just a mystery now”, that I find all male persons a mystery.

  7. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I think it’s a British Protected Person thing. I eat everything with cutlery (fork and knife, please, and neither alone), and that has always been constant source of amusement with Lori’s friends and parents. I just shrug and say it’s more efficient to use a fork and knife than my hands. I do now eat pizza with my hands, but that took a while before I would.

    Of course the interesting thing is that I went to a few years of grade school in the US, and I did then get into the habit of eating with hands, using spoons, and other horrors. My mom was pretty chill about all that but I paid in spades when I got back to Nigeria and got the business from aunts and uncles who couldn’t imagine this little savage from the States. And when I got to boarding school, and you could risk punishment or a flogging for such uncouth table habits, or in the best case forfeit your meal, the sorts of habits you describe for Rodent’s family jumped back into the bones rather quickly.

  8. Judy Prince says:

    So you’re infected with Brit-Eat, too, Uche. Well, I only wish I could manage the efficiency of it.

    Your many switches in cultures and their differences weigh very lightly on you, I must say. Well traveled folk, as you are, tend to be less judgmental; that is, they don’t feel that their native land’s customs are superior than others’……just, like you, that they’re easier to fall back into.

    Food and humour (humor) are, to me, the most difficult things to navigate in another culture. My not “getting” another peoples’ humour makes me sad and frustrated. And how can we account for our own food preferences? It’s certainly not that folks always prefer their native dishes, but we do strongly favour certain dishes almost inexplicably. Quick personal example: I love Moroccan and Korean foods the most, but have never been to Morocco and was only briefly in Korea. Reincarnation, I’m thinking. Makes perfect sense.

  9. Irene Zion says:

    Uche’s a spoon racist.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Oh indeedy! And I’m sharpening up my spoonerisms just for you, I confess. 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Spooning up your sharpenisms, then, Uche? EGAD! Has there ever been a really good spoonerism (except some salacious ones, natch)?

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I’m with you, the purported original Rev. Spoonerisms are pretty weak. I prefer Goldwynisms, especially from the marvellous catalogue David Niven offers in “Bring on the Empty Horses”, the title of which itself is a Goldwynism. And yes, Goldwynisms even trump Yogi-Berraisms.

          Whoa! That almost sounded like Yogi Bear Erasmus. Now *there* is a character I’d love to write….

        • Judy Prince says:

          Enlighten me, Uche, on Goldwynisms. Can they truly trump Yogi Berra’isms?! And I need your enlightening also about Yogi Bear Erasmus.

          I could always Google this stuff, but….you can observe a lot just by watching. (Thanks, Yogi Berra, for that quote!)

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I think the ones well attested to have come from Samuel Goldwyn of Metro Goldwyn Mayer itself are:

          “Include me out”
          “Bring on the empty horses” (on the set of The Charge of the Light brigade when he meant riderless horses)
          “In two words im possible”
          “Every director bites the hand that lays the golden egg.”
          “Anybody who goes to see a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined”
          “Our comedies are not to be laughed at”
          “They stayed away in droves”

          And “definite maybe” is often ascribed to Goldwyn.

          But you really should read David Niven’s book, for more than just the Goldwynisms.

          As for Yogi Bear Erasmus, not sure I can enlighten you, seeing as it just popped into my head about twenty minutes ago 🙂

        • Judy Prince says:

          I had wanted to get Niven’s book, Uche—-wonderful that you’re mentioning it!

          The Goldwynism examples don’t even approach the gloriful clear Yogi Berra’isms, though “definite maybe” ain’t bad.

          Tried to fool us, didja, with Yogi Bear Erasmus! Sometimes, I suspect that you aim to fool folks who don’t question what you say.

          I liked Irene’s Spoonerism: Ships crossing in the night and Crosses shipping in the night.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Uche, I just yest’day received David Niven’s _Bring on the Empty Horses_, —–and it’s info-packed and witty. Thanks for the recommend! The book’s copyrighted 1975, and in it he describes H’Wood from 1935 to 1960. In the preface he says something that connected to what Brad’s been talking about in his new column on the West:

          “There was friendliness, generosity, excitement, sadness, success, despair, and no smog in that long-ago Hollywood, but, “high” on lotus, few of the inhabitants, when World War II shattered the calm, realized that all the old standards would be changed, including the public taste in canned entertainment, and like an out-of-condition heavyweight, Hollywood was ill-prepared to cope with the second onslaught which followed quickly on the heels of the first—-the sudden advent of television—-and by burying its head in its arms and hoping that the enemy would go away, it very nearly went down for the count.”

          According to Niven, here’s Samuel Goldwyn’s formula for making a successful movie:

          1. Forget what other people are making.
          2. Never worry about trends.
          3. Buy a property that *you* think will make a good picture.
          4. Hire the best writer or writers to write the screenplay.
          5. Employ the best director to translate that screenplay onto celluloid.
          6. Give him the cast he wants and the cameraman he believes in.
          7. Control the whole thing yourself, and *above all, take the blame if it goes wrong*.
          (p. 148)

      • Irene Zion says:

        Uche, we are two crosses shipping in the night.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Pardon my free paraphrase of this excellent Spoonerism, Irene. I had lost your comment. And it cost a lament. ;-( [At least I *tried*!]

      • Irene Zion says:

        I have tried reposting the comment to Uche that vanished for you, but the TNB brain-machine-that-be keeps telling me that I have already posted that comment and won’t duplicate. So. Thus this introduction….

        Uche, We are two crosses shipping in the night.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irene, just after I’d posted my paraphrase of your “we are two crosses shipping in the night”, your original appeared directly below it! Drat the Comment Robot!

  10. Zara Potts says:

    This is so funny Judy, I have been thinking about this exact thing for a little while. Having had an American living with me for the last few months – I noticed the shifting cutlery and soon found out that is how you guys eat! We Kiwi’s still eat like the Brits, holding the cutlery in the same hand and not shifting it around. I find these differences so fascinating.
    And as for crumpets – have you tried them with butter and vegemite? Mmm Mmmm.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Butter AND vegemite? Ugh. How about ghee and marmite?

      That’s what we eat in Colden, but you, of course, will never know.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Ghee and Marmite? That should be illegal.
        Oh Don.. we so want to come to Colden… is there anyway we can get to see you?? Oh dear..

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Send me your proposed route to NYC/New Paltz and maybe we can figure something out. I assume you’re going S of the Buffalo area, like on I-80. I’m just worried that you won’t get to see a Rust Belt city. No, really — I am. It would be an important part of comprehending the US.

          Sorry to hijack, Judy.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Will do, Don. We would love to see you.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Zara, when you come visit, we will have to insist on swapping cutlery styles for the evening you’re here. You eat like an American, and we’ll eat like, well, practically the rest of the world. (giggling)

          Whatever the case, I intend to load you up with American style cookies, pancakes – and maybe I’ll even throw in a pie for ya. Blueberry suit you? You’ll be carbed out by the time you leave the Rocky Mountains.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Erika, you’ll be throwing a blueberry pie at Zara? Better than a pack of cigareets I mean cigarettes!

          How did I manage to miss these messages of yours? Maybe you need a neon orange gravatar.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        You guys are turning me a very non-Crayola shade of green :P;;;;;

        OK that was supposed to be a vomiticon, but I don’t know that I pulled it off 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Hang on! Is vegemite the same as marmite? And Don you had to complicate the issue with ghee!

  11. Richard Cox says:

    I just realized I hardly ever use a spoon for anything. I just work faster with the fork to shovel out liquidy-thick foods. And I, too, enjoy using chopsticks in lieu of the fork when I can. However, I don’t think I could eat soup without a spoon. What do the Brits do about soup? Forks and slurping?

    • Judy Prince says:

      Oh my, Richard—you’ve caught me out! I’d forgotten that of course Brits use spoons for soup! Matter of fact, I think it’s the same size as the dessert spoon, which if the custom caught on in America would considerably fatten up the one-third of USAmericans who aren’t obese!

      Let me jog in place on my 3 inch-thick rubber mat for awhile.

      Where’d you learn to use chopsticks, and why did you decide to use them?

  12. Judy Prince says:

    Thanks, Zara (Z PO?). It’s such a basic, unquestioned, unconsidered habit, innit, the way we eat? I agree with you about the Brit/USA fascinating differences, and kind of thought Kiwi’s did Brit-eating mainly bcuz I hear so many Brit-isms coming from you and other Kiwi’s on TNB. One time you said “Crikey!” and “dodgy” in the same sentence, and I fell out laffing!

    “Vegemite”……is that the dark brown stuff with yeast in it that you keep in the fridge? If so, I haven’t tried it. I do, however, like Branson’s Pickle.

    I never liked USAmerican English muffins, and I don’t like the UK supermarket ones, either. I go for the wholemeal (do you use that term for “wholewheat”, as well?) baked things. Oh—wait, I like scones! First had them in Madison/Monroe/Jefferson country Virginia; later had them in a London Art Museum cafe. Wow—joyful stuff! Took me lotsa practice pronouncing “scone” correctly. And that was complicated by Rodent’s historical narrative about the Stone of Scone. Maybe he’ll tell it to us. There’s a film about a young man and his buddies stealing the Stone of Scone from London, returning it to Scotland. Symbolically way cool!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Well funnily enough, I actually eat the same way that you guys do – by shifting my fork between hands. I always felt like I had the worst table manners because of it, until I found out that it’s entirely acceptable to eat that way in the USA.
      The language is funny eh? I still laugh when I hear ‘fanny’..and of course we down under people have a special delight for the word ‘root.’ It gave me so much joy to see vans in LA with names like ‘thrifty rooter’ or ‘robo rooter.’

      • Judy Prince says:

        How did you learn the USA way of eating, ZPo? You are so fortunate to be able to eat both Brit and USA ways.

        “Fanny” I remember…..hee hee, but “root”…..nada. Will the Comment Censor wipe out an explanation of it?

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I might have said this in a comment before, but some friends from Oz were amused to learn that at a college football game they could sit in the “rooting section.”

        • Judy Prince says:

          Now you all are letting my fertile mind wander about what “root” means to Kiwi’s. Maybe I’ll have to wait until “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, Don’t Yell (At the President)” Simon decides to tell!

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I do believe that the Comment Censor, if there is one, has been set to allow the use of “sexual intercourse.” That is to say, rooting.

          Unless I’m out of date, which I doubt (in this case). Now I’m off to root around in my fridge for some poi.

        • Judy Prince says:

          That’s a great word for it! Thanks Don, for quieting my Mind Gone Wild.

          That’s poi, not koi, right? What would Uche call a Spoonerism of those words!

          Mango pie’ly,


      • Judy Prince says:

        Now Don’s said what “rooter” means, I can giggle at the LA vans. I’ve not heard it said in England. Maybe I run with the wrong crowds. 😉

        Do you suppose it’s related to what pigs do: “rooting around”?

        OK, not!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Maybe it is. We use it in quite imaginative ways:

          ‘She’s a good/slack root.”

          “Crikey! he’s rootable.”

          “Oh my god. I am rooted (tired)”

          “My radio is rooted (broken)”

          “Hey you! Want a root?”

          “My wife/husband used to be a superooter. Now he/she doesn’t root at all.”

        • Simon Smithson says:

          “Cop a root last night?”

          “He/she’d be good for a root.”

          “He’s a bloody red-headed rat rooter!” (not common usage)


          I was very pleased with myself last time we were in LA:

          Zara: Hey look at that van! It says Thrifty Rooter!
          Me: Yeah, that’s someone who doesn’t pay for dinner.

        • Judy Prince says:

          You two had me giggling before I fully woke up! Z Po, “Superooter” and “Now he/she doesn’t root at all”—-HAHhaha! And, Simon, “Cop a root last night?”! Your spin on “Thrifty Rooter” reminds me of your proposed library card date.

          Since I’ve never heard “rooter” used, in what contexts is it acceptable? Casual conversation with friends but not one’s kids? I need to know if I’d be committing a major Eyes Down faux pas if I use it in the UK.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh Simon’s quick wit at ‘thrifty rooter’ had me in stitches for days..
          Judy – Root is acceptable in any context down under. Kids all know what it means and probably use it daily (at least in Australia).

        • Judy Prince says:

          Thanks for the Expressiquette, Zara. I’d better test it out, though, in the UK, before I start seasoning my speech with “root” while chatting with the supermarket cashier.

          Yeah, Simon’s a baaaaad ole boy! And we love it!

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I have sometimes (accurately) said that my fieldwork involved studying root crops.

          So did this piece and its comments:


          Not sure I ever said it in Oz, though.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Thanks, Don. Hahahahahahaha! How did I miss this article?! It and the comments are a total beautiful shouting hoot! Gonna go back and read it all again.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Re: pronunciation of “scone”, I’d always wondered how Americans pronounce “sconce”, which is similar in sound to brit “scone”, but seems even more horrific if pronounced to rhyme with “stone”. Unfortunately I can’t now remember having heard an American ever pronounce “sconce”.

      BTW, when I was going through my old Greek papers in prep for the Sappho translation I came across the most wonderfullest thing. It was a pronunciation guide for the diphthong ευ. It said “pronounced much like in Cockney ‘belt'”. Absolutely precious, and if I read my Vox Graeca rightly, quite apt, as well.

      • Judy Prince says:

        A wonderfully simple way to get USAers to say “scone” correctly, Uche! Yes, Rodent telling the Stone of Scone story interfered with my pronounciation.

        “Wall sconce” is a rather common USA usage, I’d thought.

        Oh, right, Uche—-like I’m gonna know what the diphthong blip blip (no way I can get those Greek letters into this message!) is or sounds like! And even more no way I’m gonna be able to imagine the sound of Cockney “belt”. [resists sighs]

        What I’d like is to *hear* someone speaking old Greek. No—-what I’d like is some spanakopita!!!!!! Or any Greek lamb dish!

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Hmmmm. The reason they used such an outlandish guide is because it really is a tough one for the English tongue.

          K so try this. Say “behwoot” and then shorten the first and the second vowel until you can’t shorten them any more, while keeping them distinct. Then shorten them even more 😉 OK OK, I know that probably makes no sense. That’s why it’s just so much easier to trap a Cockney (remember that you are required to release them back into the wild after study) and ask them to say “belt” for you.

          And once you have that down you can also say “excellent” as a Latin exclamation. Euge!

        • Judy Prince says:


          1) I really have come to enjoy the Goldwynisms!

          2) Just ordered David Niven’s humourous_Bring On The Empty Horses_ , a hardback copy at amazon.com for a penny. Customer reviewers loved it!

          3) Since I can’t get my head (or tongue!) around your way to get me to say the blip blip Greek word, I will ask Patrick McManus to say it for me (you know him from POETRYETC, and he reads some of his poems on my Frisky Moll Press website). David Bircumshaw (also on POETRYETC) said Patrick speaks Cockney—-and dear Rodent credits Bircumshaw with an unerring ear for dialects.

          Euge! (Without aid, I’m pronouncing it like “Huge” without the “H”)

  13. This really entertained me. I kept wanting to comment before finishing, but I made it.

    My girlfriend is American and I’m Scottish and we live in Korea. That results in a fair blend of cultural differences, but really the biggest talking points revolve around food, and the differences between the UK and the US.

    I think we Brits are lucky because we grow up knowing about the rest of the world. We’re told from an early age how other people do stuff, and especially how it’s done in America. Even if we aren’t educated as such, we can hardly fail to notice from TV shows and movies.

    My girlfriend is thus always fascinated by the way I ate or talk, and I’m always surprised, because I don’t even register the differences. When it comes to food there are many (as you mentioned, biscuits and flapjacks etc) and so these things come up every day.

    • Judy Prince says:

      David, it’s wonderful to hear from someone who’s right in the middle of the UK/USA culture divide! Makes me feel less idiotic in my responses and frustrations. Nevertheless, it’s surprising to hear that your talking points with your American girlfriend are mostly about food re UK/US differences.

      It’s also good to know *why* Brits seem less fascinated by Americanisms. I wonder, too, if they may think it’s impolite to thoroughly pursue such discussions. It’s that Eyes Down syndrome that completely confounds me, you see. I never know when I might bring it on!

      USAmericans have a total infatuation with Brits. We love the way they talk—-no matter which dialect they’re using (not that we’d know the distinctions re geography, for the most part). And, natch, Brit history is our history. I think USAers would feel crushed if The Royals disappeared one day, whereas I’ve never met a Brit who has a good thing to say about them (shocking!).

      Rodent and I discuss UK/USA politics a lot which often leads to our understandable prejudices about our own country’s way of doing things, especially selecting a PM, for example, as opposed to a president. Even understanding *how* the process operates, it’s difficult for either of us to imagine how it actually affects people, how it might be to switch systems. Tough to see how the other system would translate to one’s own country. I always want to know at what point and why the USA system shifted from being UK-like.

      Re politics, I loved hearing/watching the brief excerpts of the Brown/Clegg/Cameron debate especially because I couldn’t imagine any USA politician doing as well! They smoothly and efficiently managed to respectfully and un-angrily attack each other while effectively presenting their views—-and the moderator (presenter?) didn’t have to nag them to shut up because they’d gone over their time limit. Never would’ve happened in the USA. That smooth/efficient/respectful but aggressive way of debating seems quintessentially Brit—-and, therefore, I wonder why it hasn’t rooted (oops! better avoid that word!) in the USA.

      My continuous feeling is that Brits think of USAmericans as loudmouthed, uncouth, flippant, disrespecting folk. But I never know if that’s because of their reaction to me or to other USAers.

      What fascinating fun this is!

      • Americans are invariably disappointed to hear my lack of accent… They can tell I’m not American, but I don’t sound like Groundskeeper Willie. Not anymore, anyway. I’ve been out of Scotland, trying to make myself understood for so long that I just talk funny. It’s hard to place. I meet Scottish people and they ask where I’m from…

        As for British politics: It’s more civilised than American politics, but still a little silly. And it’s funny that you praise it, because they’re all busy trying to Americanize it.

        When I was in Scotland I spent a lot of time defending Americans. There is so much hostility over there, thanks to years of foreign policy and loudmouthed tourists. British people (along with the rest of the world) can’t get their heads around the fact that the American government pisses off the American people, and that the loudmouthed tourists don’t necessarily offer a brilliant cross-section of society.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I loved your comments, David!

          “Groundskeeper Willie”—HA! I keep telling dear Rodent that I’ll ask you about your Scottish heritage, so consider this my request. (BTW, Rodent’s Glaswegian, son of the manse, loathed his all-male uptight (my descriptors, not his!) “high school” years, but very much liked his time at U of Glasgow where he was fortunate to have Edwin Morgan as tutor and take part in Philip Hobsbaum’s group of poets.)

          Rodent, p’raps like you, has never sounded “truly” English (to me)—-and I think it’s bcuz many words he pronounces as USAmericans would, not as the English would. (I found that out recently from a linguist.) He also sounds nothing like his kids, who were born/raised in the east midlands. I say they talk RSE, at which he laughs and says they definitely don’t sound that way, but rather just like east midlanders.

          Last week, after selling his east midlands home, Rodent went up to Darlington where he’s renting a neat 1800s terraced house. The Skyped piccies of it are fabulous; I’m eager to be in it! Durham and Yorkshire are on my Got To See list—-as well as we’ll be closer to Scotland of which I’ve only been to Glasgow , and only for a week visiting poet friends and his old buddies. Loved the food at Babbity Bowster pub in G’Gow—-the cloutie pudding amazingly delish!

          Back to your blessedly direct and trenchant remarks on US/UK politics. Re the Brit pols behaving more civilised, yes indeed! Tragic that they’re trying to Americanise. “Silly”, tho? If you mean the politics itself, (and not their civility), I agree. They do seem to’ve lost touch with “the people”, and Labour seems clueless about its powerfully humanist, socialist past and how to return to it.

          Re your defending Americans, I think that the loudmouthed tourists ARE a reasonable sample of Americans. And, natch, I think that’s just fine. 😉 But you’re right about so many USAmericans having gone through years despising our national leaders, wondering how they kept getting elected, and being profoundly saddened at the way they reversed everything we think our country represents at its best.

          My recent conclusion is that UK folk are individualists and USA folk are conformists, for the most part. And that’s the reverse of what I’d always thought in the years before being in England. Scottish folk? I don’t know yet, and would love to find out.

        • Having lived in a tourist location in Scotland and amongst Americans in America and Korea, I’m not sure that American tourists are a fair cross-section. I honestly think the US sends its dumbest, loudest people abroad to prevent people wanting move there. “Send dumb Americans to Scotland? That’ll stop those damn Scots coming over here and taking our jobs! They’ll think we’re all assholes!”

          I’ve only ever been in Glasgow a handful of times. It has a bad reputation throughout the rest of Scotland. If you want to get stabbed, go to Glasgow. Or so they say… It was nice when I went there.

          Or maybe Glasgow sends its most violent people to other parts of Scotland, to prevent visitors flooding in…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Wonderfully funny, David. I’m still grinning from your cameos about Americans and Scots.

          OK, I’ll pretend to agree with you that American tourists are NOT a fair cross-section of Americans. And now I just *have to* ask you your take on the difference between Scots and the English.

          Yeah, re Glasgow, Rodent has said as much as you’re saying about its violent past and present. I lived most of my years on Chicago’s south side, though, so am not terribly off-put by G’gow’s bad rep. It was, as you say, “nice when I went there”. They might’ve already sent their most violent folk to other places, as you suggest. 😉 Good one, David.

        • Ooh… tough subject.

          I’ve never bought into the whole “We hate the English!” thing. Yes, I hate English nationalists, but I hate all nationalists. I also hate being mistaken for an English person (although it’s understandable if someone doesn’t get my accent).

          I think there are big cultural differences, but that they’re dying over time, and that’s not a particularly bad thing. Both countries are keen to respect their heritage, without cramming it down anyone’s throat.

          I find it annoying that Americans (alright, maybe you’re right about the tourist thing…) ALWAYS ask, “Oh Scatland, that’s in England, right?” And also, every American tourist to Edinburgh has said, “It’s so nice they built the castle near the airport.” Duh.

          And another thing (damn, I’m ranting now)… Why does every American person always ask me how we celebrate Thanksgiving in “Scatland”???


          You’re turning me into a real Scot, now… an American-hating Scot!

          Just kidding, I still love you Americans. But I wish you’d all stop asking me whether I support Rangers or Celtic. There are hundreds of football (another linguist difference) teams and lots of people hate Rangers and Celtic for their violent fans, sectarian abuse, and religious and financial stranglehold over the league.

          -End Rant-

        • Judy Prince says:

          Now I’m not just grinning—-I’m laffing OUT LOUD, David! HOOOT!!!!! Wotta gorjus rant! Why not make this into a TNB piece?!

          Every paragraph’s hilarious, but for some reason this goofy statement struck me as the laughingest: “And also, every American tourist to Edinburgh has said, ‘It’s so nice they built the castle near the airport.’ Duh.” 😉 😉

          Wait’ll I send this to Rodent!

          BTW, you didn’t say where in Scotland you grew up. I’m guessing Edinburgh or nearby there.

        • Glad you liked it.

          I’m from St. Andrews originally, but spent the last few years of my time in Scotland in Dundee. People there list “stabbing” and “heroin” among their hobbies, just like in Glasgow.

          And I did try to write a post about America, but it wasn’t very good. I tried to run the idea of America as a thread through my life thus far… but many thousands of words in I realised it was unreadable nonsense. So I gave up and wrote that “Ghost Stories” one that everybody seemed to like. It was the first time I’d ever gotten to the top of the “Most Read” list.

          And another thing… (sorry, I had more ranting left in me)… Do you say Glass-ga-oo or Glaz-go? *Shakes fist*

        • Judy Prince says:

          David, when I told a psychic about the “ghosts” in this little rented house, she said: “Tell them to leave you and go toward the light.” I thought that was useful, so I’ve said it several times, but apparently need to say it again bcuz last week a glass shelf of glasses fell shattering to the floor—-but the shelf’s supporting hardware was perfectly in place. I showed the whole mess to a friend who said “Maybe it’s the vibrations of earthmoving machines downtown or something.” Right. NOT!

          I just now read your “Ghost Stories” for the first time, since I never read about stuff that’s scary, figuring I’ve got enuff scary stuff going on without intensifying it. It was a helluva scary read, too, thank you very much! No wonder you hit the big time with comments!

          I also got several fine giggles out of it, one which was: “. . . it was always far more likely that one of us would trip over a discarded item of clothing and break a leg than be attacked by a ghost or an intruder.” Your characterisations of young men are wonderfully astute and amusing.

          I say “Glass-go”, which may be a blend of the two. I’ll ask Rodent to repeat “Glasgow” several times so I can duplicate his sound.

        • “Glass-go” is fine.

          Anyway, it’s silly of me to pick up that point, because I still called Paris “Par-iss” instead of “Par-ee” and Prague “Prag” instead of “Prah-ha.” I just think it’s funny when people don’t realise.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I might say “Edinburg” (Ed in burg), then, just to make you laugh, David. Took me lots of practice to say (for “Loughborough”, the town I lived in) “LUFF-bruh” instead of “LUFF-burr-oh”. Rodent’s son kindly alerted me to the correct pronunciation. Such seemingly *easy* things to know and to do, but they are linguistic habits difficult to recognise and change.

          Oh, reminds me that Rodent’s son, upon first greeting me, would always say, solicitously: “How are you feeling?” I thought maybe Rodent had told him I was ill or something. Rodent later explained that the questions was just as routine as “Hi” or “How are you?” and that was a great relief bcuz I’d begun to think that the entire family knew I was gravely ill and hadn’t told me yet.

          Cloutie dumpling, I meant!!!! Not cloutie pudding!

  14. Simon Smithson says:

    If it helps, some translation (American English -> Australian English)

    Cookie – biscuit
    Biscuit – muffin
    Cupcake – muffin
    (see! Trickery!)
    Jello – jelly
    Jelly- jam
    Case (beer) – slab (beer)

    And this is a perfectly valid and workable sentence:

    Shazza and Dazza went to Maccas listening to Acca Dacca.

    Any Australian person would understand this instantly.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Simon, now I’ll hafta study the Oz list as well as the Brit list! YAWK! Gotta check it with Rodent. It’s so hard to remember this stuff. Do you also say “crisps” rather than “chips”? And are your “chips” actually what Americans would call french fries? And because Rodent’s Scottish there’s a whole nother list to note: clootie dumpling, heid, bairn…..the toast: “Here’s tae us! Wha’s like us? Gae few, and thir all deed.”

      Never heard the beer refs. AND, your entire continent puzzles me! Place names, animal and plant names—-are utterly puzzling.

      Don’t tease, Simon—-translate that Shazza sentence! Would my New Zullender nephew-in-law understand it instantly?

      • Simon Smithson says:

        No, we say ‘chips’. We would refer to French fries as either chips or fries.

        Whereas the thicker-cut fried potato chips would always be chips.

        Hmm. ‘Here’s to us? Who’s like us? Very few people, and they’re all dead’?


        ‘Sharon and Darren went to McDonald’s, listening to AC/DC’.

        Your Nu Zullender nephew would more than likely get it.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Excellent translation from Scottish, Simon! It’s a lovely thing to hear said and to say, as well.

          So Britspeak says “crisps” for USAmerican’s “chips” (the very thinly sliced fried in oil thingies), but you would say “chips” just as Americans do. Doesn’t sound right. And then what Americans call French fries you’d call either “chips” or “fries”. I’m not sure I know what the thicker-cut fried potato chips are, which you would call “chips”. I’m guessing that without seeing these things, it’s near-impossible to explain their appearances. A Google Images photo might help.

          How in the woild does one get from “Shazza and Dazza went to Maccas listening to Acca Dacca” to “Sharon and Darren went to McDonald’s, listening to AC/DC”? This might be an instance of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

          I’ll email my nephew who pronounces his first name as “Mock”.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Isn’t there a huge body of linguistic work on what I think is usually called “Cockney Rhyming Slang?” I shouldn’t phrase that as a question. I know there is, but I’ve never looked into it.

          I think Shazza and Dazza is something like that, but Simon would know.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I’m upping your comment count by having posted before probing and googling.




          And Judy, whilst there’s no comment censor for words, that I know of, there is a limit on links. Two in any comment are OK, but more than two and it goes somewhere for moderation.

          At least that was so that last time I posted links. We’ll see. Here I go with two.

        • Zara Potts says:

          We have an awful habit of nicknaming people in Australia/New Zealand. So Shazza and Dazza are par for the course if you happen to be called sharon or darren or even Darryl.

          And you should always simply put an O on the end of something if you are stuck for a decent nickname. So Don – you would automatically be Donno. Or Possibly or ‘Mitcho’.

          Automatic nicknames:
          Steve or John – Steve-o; Johno.
          Gary or Warren – Gazza; Wazza.
          Every Redhead is called ‘Blue’ or ‘Bluey’ – there are no exceptions to this.
          Every tall man is called ‘Shorty’

          It’s strange down under. The only place in the world where ‘Bastard’ is a term of great affection.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Zara, I keep wondering why the nicknames like Shazza and Dazza evolved from the names like that. That’s a futile wondering, tho. Now I’m wondering how it’s decided to end a name with O or with ‘zza”……wait, it might be that one syllable names are given O, but 2-syllable names get their second syllable excised and replaced with “zza”.

          All redheads are all called “Blue” or “Bluey”? What a wild, contrarian country you live in! English-speaking foreigners would need a dictionary, fer sher!

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Ah, two links required moderation.

          Frankly, I’m surprised that even one link doesn’t. Links carry so much potential for mischief.

          Thanks, Brad, for letting us have even one.

          “Donno,” no thanks. Too much as if derived from Donnie Darko.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Both links got through in your one message, Don. The Wiki link was really helpful. I went to a couple You Tube Cockney Rhyming Slang performances but couldn’t “get” it until I’d read the Wiki article.

          BTW, what do you mean “two links required moderation”? Do you mean that you can send in two links in a message but that they’ll be checked out by the programmed bot bcuz of possible mischief-making?

          I’m asking because one time recently I sent in a 3-link message which failed several times, so I sent each link in a separate message. What happened was that the original 3-linked message— as well as the 3 separate one-link messages—-all showed up! I guess to be efficient, it’s best to do as you did, sending no more than 2 links in one message.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Yes, multiple links mean that somebody takes a look. The link count is automatic, I’m sure, but I believe Brad or some designated TNB person checks out the links, and for good reason.

          There was a time when 2 links would go up without moderation. I learned that after trying to post 3 or 4 links to disposable Tyvec swimwear in a comment (it doesn’t seem that the disposable swimwear posting came over from TNB V2 to TNB V3, which is a pity).

          Your 3-link message showed up late because somebody had to look at it, and it was the same for my 2-link message today. When it didn’t pop up immediately, I was sure that’s what had happened, and I was right. As you say, yours finally showed up after it had been vetted.

          So I’m going to stick to single links.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Disposable swimwear, Don? You’re beginning to worry me.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Oh, it was hilarious. I wish I could remember the poster’s name. He went to a motel or hotel and was offered a disposable swim suit, made from Tyvec. I found a vendor of such suits online, and the images on their site were also hilarious, so I posted several links in one comment, and that’s when I learned about link moderation. Really.

          I can’t find the posting, but I found the link again.

          You’ll want one of these, Judy. Talk about Eyes Down . . . down to the “attractive O cut in the back.”


        • Judy Prince says:

          That’s an attractive (albeit disposable) swimsuit, Don! Might order several—-p’raps for TNBers who could then tattoo admin’s gravatar on their backs framed by the “attractive O cut”.

          I assume that the disposable swimsuit is for males as well as females, of course. Lovely.

  15. Dana says:

    I’d noticed your comments of course – but I had no idea you were writing here. Cool!
    What a fun read. I’ve often noticed the fork and knife working in conjunction on others’ plates, but rarely have occasion to even pick up a knife for the food I’m consuming. It’s funny how such a little thing can become so pronounced once you’ve made the connection. It’s REALLY obvious to me when a meal is consumed on a tv show or movie too. I wonder if American actors portraying Brits have to be tutored.

    The last time I was presented with chopsticks for eating (sushi) I wound up just stabbing my roll with it. Yes, I have class.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thanks for the nice words, Dana!

      Dear Roll-Stabber, good for you! Doubtless the chefs were relieved you didn’t stab them or the servers. Now you’ve got me in a roll (so to speak hee hee). But seriously, Dana……..doesn’t it seem as if we should just eat sushi with our fingers? Come to think of it, why don’t we just eat everything with our fingers, and then drink the juices like Irene does, after we’ve gobbled up the nonjuicy bits? Restaurants would routinely hand out wet wipes for our fingers; no raised eyebrows; just folks having a food-tactile thrill. Kind of like the tactile joy of skinny-dipping.

      Wait I’ve gone on a roll so far that I’ve gone over it. I just finished eating lunch which was a bowl of tinned pears (without the tin) and fresh raspberries—-and I’m embarrassed to admit that I ate with a spoon, not with my hands. You’ll prolly tell me to put my money where my mouth is……but I don’t advocate eating money…….

      Yes, BTW, I think that American actors portraying Brits would defo need tutoring in the restaurant scenes. Matter of fact, American actors shouldn’t portray Brits; it’s not a pretty thing. Ditto for Brit actors portraying Americans.

  16. This was so much fun to read! Do you know they carry crumpets at Trader Joes now. They’re fabulous. I’m always offering them to overnight guests (we seem to have many, often) and am always asked to explain exactly what they are.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thanks, Jessica!

      I’ll have to wait ’til I visit my son, his wife and their twin boys in LA bcuz they have Trader Joes but Norfolk does not. My d-in-law goes to TJ a lot. She said I’d like it bcuz it’s where “all the old hippies go”. 😉 That girl!

      I’ll be in England soon, so will try to get Real Crumpets, not supermarket types, but truthfully I’ve never gone a bundle on them, as they say over there.

      I do get wildly pleased, though, at Yorkshire puddings! They remind me of wonderful eggy, airy popovers.

      • Jude says:

        Mmmm… hot crumpets, awash in butter and marmite! What a treat!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Jude, we seem to have a real disconnect going on here between your crumpet-marmite ecstasy and Megan’s crumpet-marmite loathing.

          I’m thinking that anything’s good when it’s awash in butter—-even shoes (sorry, 3-toed Irene). Haven’t yet tasted marmite but if my throat’s like Megan’s, I’m not ready to gulp fried gasoline. We’ll see, as dear Rodent always says.

          The word “crumpet” is inherently silly. How can folks eat crumpets without laffing??! I mean we’re looking at an object that’s probably been named for a person’s dog that had bad eating habits [crum-pet].

          It’s been a really full day. Stop now, Judy.

  17. Megan says:

    Oh I love transcontinental comparisons! I agree with all your observations about UK eating. The term “jacket potato” also irks me for some reason. Crumpets are essentially tasteless and Marmite hurts my tongue. It’s like fried gasoline.

    But the curry is sublime. Co-opting curry may be the Brits biggest colonial victory ever.

  18. Judy Prince says:

    Wonderful to hear from a soul in synch, Megan!

    Indeed, I see little suede jackets on potatoes with that term. “Fried gasoline” Marmite–HA! Curry, understandably, is the most popular dish in England (dunno about the rest of the UK).

    HOW ARE YOUR STUDIES COMING? HOW IS WALES? Lemme know, if only briefly.

    I *do* hope you’ve been able to dodge the carrels for a few moments to relax, flip your flipflops on the desk and write a poem or two. Your prose AND your poetry is vivid, engaging, evocative and emotion-taut. All the best energy and wishes for your several important projects, Megan.

  19. Angela Tung says:

    “Clearly, he hadn’t been watching me, bowl in hand, spooning up my meal like one big stew.”

    this cracked me up! i do the same thing. if i could eat all my meals with a spoon i would. maybe it’s because i grew up with my mom’s delicious chinese food, complete with sauce you don’t want to miss a drop of, made even more delicious mixed up with some sticky rice.

    i just made myself hungry.

    • Judy Prince says:

      angela, you just made me hongry, too—and I only ate an hour ago (what else, but a bowlful of stuff?)!

      Hey, aren’t you supposed to be librarianing at the SF medical-scientific building on the wharf?

      Or is it in Union Square?

      And did you take notes in your interviews so that you can thinly fictionalise the most hilarious interviewers or their minions? What opportunities!!!!

      Here’s some shorthand Justin Case you need it: %**())9)@~~_ (Woh! I may have cracked the ingredient code for No. 7 Breast Cream!) We’ll be wealthy! Wait—-we’ll have to share the wealth with 60,000 TNBers. Downer.

  20. Erika Rae says:

    Love the timing of this piece, Judy! You’re such a pro. The whole Eyes Down thing had me giggling like a lunatic. What I love about you is that you knew it was embarrassing them, but you persisted. Doggy bag, please? Ha!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Oh, you clever girl, Erika! You had p’raps remembered I’m stubborn. I had wondered if anyone would “get” that last doggie bag request. You’ve made my day/night/maybe even year! [BTW, it takes one to know one, they sometimes say……(here’s my Uche caterpillar……;-0)9″`”;-()]

  21. D.R. Haney says:

    Is the term “doggie bag” still in widespread use [Eyes Down]? I don’t seem to hear it anymore, just as I didn’t hear it among my relatives when I was growing up in Virginia. Rather, it would come up on television, and I always thought it sounded really sophisticated, so I could hardly wait till I was grown up so as to go to a restaurant and say, “I’d like a doggie bag.”

    Nowadays, waiters just sort of throw a Styrofoam box at me when I say that I’d like to take food home (which is how I think I generally phrase it). When I was a waiter myself, a small lifetime ago, I was instructed to wrap food up with tinfoil and make a swan shape with it — remember that trend? Or does it continue here and there?

    Obviously, I don’t dine out very much these days.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Over here, someone would know exactly what you were talking about if you asked for a doggie bag – but I think that could well be due to its prevalence on TV. The first time I ever heard it used was on an ep of Seinfeld.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Ah. But Seinfeld closed shop in the late nineties, so the terminology may already be dated. I mean, obviously, people do continue to say “doggie bag,” but I’m not sure that it’s as prevalent as it used to be.

    • Judy Prince says:

      A swan shape?! Where were you when I needed an elegant date back in the day? Virginia-bred….ah, that explains it. ‘Twas one of the ancillary reasons I moved to Virginia after retirement. Another was the presence of the navy (Norfolk is home to the world’s largest military naval base). Lots of impeccable manners going on in this city. I had told my Chicago friends that I was moving to Norfolk because the ratio of males to females was probably the best (for women) in any of the States. They said, “Yes, but the men are teenagers!” I said: “Exactly!” (I feel certain that dear Rodent isn’t reading these comments, but if he were, he would laugh.)

      Yes, you’re quite right about the servers slapping down the offending styrofoam container. What’s up with that? The irony is that food portions have gotten much bigger in recent years so that if you don’t take the uneaten bit home, you’re leaving half your meal. Aha! I have an idea, but will test it out in the USA first: I’ll ask for a a doggie bag for my plate and cutlery, explaining that it only makes sense, prices being what they are.

      Say good night, Judy. No, I want to say good night, Duke! 😉

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I hadn’t noticed that the portions have gotten larger. Or maybe I have without it fully sinking in. But that would certainly help to account for America’s ever-growing obesity problem.

        My swan days were in NYC, actually, and not Virginia. But I think it was kind of a national trend, since I think later, in LA, I had doggie bags delivered to me in tinfoil swans.

        Say good night, Duke.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Good night, Duke.

          Images of tinfoil swans keep presenting themselves to my sleepy brain. And I’m recalling incredible drawings of folded napkins in Mrs. Beaton’s 1930s cookbook. She was an Englishwoman, and she’s best known in the UK for her chicken roasting recipe which begins: “First, kill a chicken.” Anyway, these pictured napkins were brilliantly complex creations such as “Monk’s Hat” and come to think of it……a swan! Think I’ll try to find a copy of the book online. It’s a hoot and a treasure of advice.

          Say good Duke, Knight! From me, Prince who would love to have a tinfoil doggie bag swan.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Very funny line, that “kill a chicken.” In fact, my grandmother used to personally kill many of the chickens she roasted and fried. She was a farmer’s wife and kept a hen house.

        • Judy Prince says:

          In my sleepful muddle (it’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!), Duke, I got nearly everything wrong about Mrs. Beeton (now spelled correctly), tho the “kill a chicken” may’ve been right. Will get the facts together in the morning and post them.

          Re your grandmother killing chickens and keeping a hen house, Simon recently described a wonderful Gary Larson cartoon. A woman’s coming from the henhouse carrying a basket of eggs, and she passes a hen coming from her house carrying a basket of babies.


        • Judy Prince says:

          A note to Duke. You said you hadn’t noticed the meals’ portions getting larger, and possibly it’s the town you’re living in. Before I came to Norfolk in 2002 I saw a stat that said Norfolk had more obese people than any other city in the States……so I’m thinking that (chicken/egg argument?) the larger portions here tie in somehow to restaurant-goers’ expectations and eating habits.

          I thought of this bcuz yest’day I went to a fave Italian restaurant of mine and Rodent’s. I got the grilled tuna steak on a green salad—-the “small” salad, not the “large” salad—-and I *had* to take a doggie bag of it—got 2 lunches out of it! The food was wonderfully fresh, well prepared and seasoned. They know how to please! My son says that bigger portions do not actually cost the restaurateurs much more, and it brings them a lot more patrons. Dunno about the first part, but the last part, if the food’s tasty, is surely true.

          ‘Night, Duke!

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