How To Speak Australian

So at my fancy new food job, when i'm not prepping for an event (such as the big weeklong event kicking off on Christmas Eve that has occupied all of my time) I sit in an office with a bunch of other people and work on recipe development. Most everyone in the office speaks English, so it's made me quite lazy with attempting to learn new Vietnamese words.  My boss grew up in Australia, and there's another Australian guy in the office, so the type of English everyone speaks is Australian-ish. In trying to adapt, I've had to make some changes to my food vocabulary.

Cilantro = Coriander

I know from watching Nigella Bites episodes years ago when it first aired on the now-defunct Style Network that the British use the term "coriander" to describe what in the US we have always called "cilantro" - except in French it's coriandre and in Spanish it's cilantro, so mass confusion all around.  I've had to frequently catch myself in conversations with my Vietnamese Sous Chef on this project when I notice the blank look on his face as I begin to utter "cilantro".  This one is an easy change, though, and it's already infiltrated my vocabulary quite nicely.

Eggplant = Aubergine

Aubergine is the French word for eggplant, so this one is been a no-brainer for me to assimilate into my vocabulary.  Same goes for:

Zucchini = Courgette

Same word in French. Easy peasy. I've got this. Right?

Not so easy:

Squash Blossoms = Pumpkin Flower

Earlier this week while reviewing a potential menu item with my boss and talking about sautéed squash blossoms, I looked up from my notes and saw the look of horror on his face. "Squash blossoms? You eat those?", he said, incredulously. Which in turn caught me off guard. He's probably one of the best known chefs in Vietnam and he's never heard of of squash blossoms?

"Well, yeah everyone in the US eats those," I responded. "In Italy they stuff them with cheese and fry them".

As I'm talking, he's googling images and his expression clears up.

"Ah! pumpkin flower! Okay I get it".

"Pumpkin flower?", I blurt out.  "That's what you call them?"

"Well yes.  'Squash blossoms' sounds disgusting".

"Right. I'm never going to get this".

Bell Pepper = Capsicum

Capsicum is the latin word for pepper. Another term they use freely at my work kitchen is sweet pepper. The problem I have is that this one is a tongue twister for me. Capsicum capsicum capsicum.  Lorem ipsum. Try saying that three times fast.

The Metric System versus American Bullshit

Ah, my old friend the Metric System. I learned this while growing up in France. This is the only system that makes complete sense.  Everything is easy to figure out. For example: 1000 grams equals 1 kilo,  and 1000 milliliters equals 1 liter.  So why on earth hasn't the good ol' US of A embraced this extremely easy to understand system? Let's get rid of the US Customary System already.  It's fucking ridiculous.

borrowed from Wikipedia. LET'S GET WITH THE PROGRAM ALREADY.

Also ridiculous is me spending eleventy hours a day pulling my hair out while trying to convert my recipes from ounces, cups, and pounds to grams, kilos, and liters.  Except I need to start spelling it litre if I want to go with the flow here.


Let's start with the word risotto.  In the US we say Riz Oh Toe.  Except for me, that is.  Ever since I watched Gordon Ramsey bawl out a contestant on the first season of Hell's Kitchen, I've marched around the house barking out Riz Aw Toe, much like I used to with the word ¡BOCACALLE! . "Why did you put fish stock in the fucking rizawtoe?", bellowed out a red-faced Gordon Ramsey to some kid who looked like he wanted to just turn and run away. Ah, Chef Ramsey. Never change.

Shah-Let versus Shuh-Lotte

Also, thanks to Chef Ramsey, I've pronounced the word "shallot" as Shuh Lotte for many years now. I did it at first because I thought it was funny, and then it infiltrated my vocabulary without me paying any attention.  People at my various food jobs in the US used to make so much fun of me, but hey look at me now! I got this one.

But I tell you, one word that I will never change in my pronunciation is tomato. To me, it will always be Tuh May Toe.  I cannot and will never pronounce it Toe Mah Toe.  I have no idea why, and no idea how to explain it, but this one goes against every fiber in my being.  I just can't do it.

And now, all this food talk has made me hungry, plus there's no milk in the house so I must go out into the wilds of the streets of Saigon and properly feed and caffeinate myself.  Be well, people.


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