As I’ve previously mentioned in some of my cooking posts, grocery shopping in Oxford is a hilarious experience. We all speak the same language, but I often find myself getting the most confused looks from the store employees when asking for normal everyday ingredients like cilantro or pickle relish.

American aisle in Oxford England grocery store
If only every aisle in the British grocery store was like this…
The other day I went grocery shopping with my next door neighbor (I have a real friend, ya’ll!) and I was telling her about my Ritz Cracker chicken recipe (I swear I’m not obsessed with it, I just sound like I am.) Luckily Ritz exists over here but they must be an import because she had no idea what I meant by “cracker.” How does one even describe it? I finally came up a lackluster description of it… “A buttery bread-like thing that crumbles really easily and is a little salty.” After a few more questions and answers, she finally understood, and I feel like we broke the language barrier together. It’s the little things….

But I’m still learning every time I go shopping. And if I can help even just one future expat, I’ll know I’ve accomplished my mission. Here are a few things I’ve figured out so far during my bi-weekly shopping trips:

American Term = British Term

Pepperoni = Salami – They have frozen pepperoni pizzas but I can’t seem to find it called that anywhere else

Cilantro = Coriander – I thought it just didn’t exist here, but thanks to a fellow expat, I found out the truth

Eggplant = Aubergine – I don’t actually eat this, but thought it might be helpful for those of you who are healthier than me 🙂

Sausage = Bangers – Not to be confused with Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz tour…

Cookies = Biscuits – Fun fact: the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream still says “Cookie Dough,” which is good because “Biscuit Dough?”…

French fries = Chips – But skinny ones are still called fries just to make it confusing…

Potato chips = Crisps – See above for why they can’t be called chips

Ground beef = Minced beef – It’s always just a slight change that makes it much harder to do online shopping

Oatmeal = Porridge – It’s so when you eat it, you can feel like you’re part of a fairy tale

Shrimp = Prawns – They love their prawns so much that there are even prawn-flavored chips, I mean crisps

Arugula = Rocket – I thought it was a completely different kind of cool space-age-type lettuce until my friend corrected me

Luckily, wine is universal, so I have no problem finding my pinot, which is much needed after a shopping trip filled with confusion all around.

Have you ever lived abroad and had the same kind of experience? What’s the weirdest thing something’s been called?

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