I was flicking through the internet news a few days ago, when I came across an article on healthy food ratings in MacDonalds. I read it, more in disbelief that this called be “news” initially, but I was intrigued quickly as it became a short lesson in the differences between English and American languages. Yes, honestly!
I´ve come across the word “biscuit” quite often in American literature and always been mildly baffled by it. To me, and any other Brit, a biscuit is a small, sweet piece of confectionary. What would be called a “cookie” in the USA. So why, then, did it keep popping up with savoury intonations, for instance, “biscuits and gravy”? Well, I looked at the illustrations for the US MacDonald´s menu, and there it was – “Biscuit Steak Sandwich”! But from that point, things got even more confusing. That wasn´t a biscuit surrounding the steak; it was a scone!
Now, if you live outside the UK you may well be wondering what on earth a scone is? Well, in the UK it´s another piece of confectionary. Generally sweet, often with sultanas or currants in it, and normally eaten buttered and liberally spread with jam. (If you´re in the US, for “jam” read “jelly”. In the UK jelly is a wobbly pudding; called “Jello”, I think, in the US. Got it?). It´s a tea time treat, or if you´re really stuck for the calories, it can be eaten thickly spread with jam and clotted cream, as part of a cream tea. Which naturally brings us to “tea”.
And yet more confusion! Of course, tea is something you drink (normally taken with milk added in the UK). But it can also be a meal. A smallish meal, taken between lunch and dinner, and usually consisting of, say, sandwiches and cake. Or a scone, of course! However, in my childhood “tea” was the main meal of the day, and was what is now called “dinner”. And if you´re in Scotland, “High Tea” is a huge meal, with all the sweet stuff and a proper main course as well!
Now, aren´t you glad I cleared that up?