Food: Dessert?

Ameri-speak:  Zucchini (Zoo-key-nee)

Brit-speak: Courgette (Kur-zhet)

The back story: Culture shock when I moved to the UK wasn’t that bad.  Sarcasm and the ability to laugh at myself were certainly keys to surviving, dare I say thriving, here (A cabbie once told me to go back to America and to smack my mom for giving me my Christian name).  But what I wasn’t prepared for was the moment my first intense culture shock hit.  My colleagues and I had to do our first big food shop and headed to a supermarket called Asda, which is owned by that global conglomerate, Wal-mart.  I should’ve prepared myself for the worst simply based on that fact alone.  I mean have you SEEN People of Wal-mart?

I expected to stroll in and stroll out in 30 minutes with a few bags full of items I’d need for the week…. Nearly two hours later I was about to pull the biggest adult temper tantrum of my life.  I’m sorry to say that at that point I would have been okay with hurling myself on the floor, red-faced, kicking and screaming, either that or curling into the fetal position and softly whimpering, “Help me. Please, please help me.”  The problem?  Everything is called something different here.  Okay, not everything, but a lot of things and when you are walking through the aisles relying on those stupid hanging signs to show you what is in each aisle and they say things like, crisps, squash, and international food (where they keep the Old El Paso), it can all feel really frustrating.  And when you are so fed up that you finally go up to a member of staff and cry, “Please, could you just show me where I can find some zucchini!?” and their reply is, “What is that?” all of the sudden you’ll find that you become okay with the idea of physically assaulting someone.

Photo via -- A British site -- just try and find a courgette recipe that is sweet. Go ahead.

To this day I still have rage against Asda – and it is only that supermarket.  Anytime I convince myself that this time it will be okay, this time will be different, I walk away with dangerously high blood pressure.  After my last visit I left muttering, “I hate this place.  HATE IT!  I hate this place,” as The Duchess stared at me with a troubled look.

So there you have it Americans.  There is no zucchini bread here, instead we’ll call it courgette bread.  Except that you wouldn’t because that would make British people think of actual bread, so you’d need to call it courgette cake.  And when you do that, you can be pretty sure that 95% of the population won’t want to touch it because that sounds disgusting to them.  (See my Thanksgiving post about not mixing sweet and savoury).

And Brits, be warned.  When those Americans come calling around and say, ‘Oh, would you like to try my Zucchini bread?’  It’s not as exotic as it sounds.  They’re making a cake with courgette in it.  You might just want to weigh that one up before you accept.


12 thoughts on “Food: Dessert?

  1. GaryB

    There’s a few of us ignorant Brits who have eaten courgette cake! In fact it was courgette chocolate cake, and it was yummy!

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Yes, I really love zucchini bread/courgette cake (I am confusing myself) and so do my in-laws. I’ve never tried courgette chocolate cake though. While it tastes good, I think some Brits just hear the phrase courgette cake and want to vomit. Nice that you are willing to give it a go, Mr. B.

  2. MmeLindor

    It is funny, but I think that Americans find it more difficult than when Europeans move to other countries in Europe. The brands are at least familiar.

    My American friend came for Thanksgiving Dinner and made sweet apples to the turkey, which I thought would be weird, but tasted really lovely, so I totally get the sweet/sour confusion.

  3. christy

    Hahahaha.. I REMEMBER that Asda trip where you came back in a rage. Actually remember it! And how long ago was THAT?! Haha.
    Asda has become my favourite of the grocery’s in Newcastle. I can’t believe how real the rage still is for you. hahaha

    I am sending your blog to another American friend who came along to a breakfast party for the Rugby world cup with “breakfast cake” Oh yes. she had renamed our beloved coffee cake because she didn’t think they would get it or try it at 8am.

    I am sure she was right. I looked at the crumbly yummy looking plate she put down “breakfast cake?!” you mean Coffeeeeee cake?! 🙂

  4. Dilly Tante

    I’m British and ASDA makes me feel that way! FWIW I make a yummy courgette cake. When people question it you just have to point out most people gladly eat carrot cake!

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      It seems that Asda is something you either love or hate. Love that you’ve made a courgette cake. I don’t think it’s something many British people would think about making (atleast not the people I’ve met). I have definitely pointed out the carrot cake thing before!

  5. Liz

    I got quite a laugh from this blog! I feel your pain! I remember when I was in Korea in 2002/ 2003… Me, attempting to navigate through THEIR Wal-Mart! I could hardly find anything, but!, I discovered some delicious moon pies hee hee. Zucchini bread, eh? I’ve never had it…

    I get quite the kick at the British/ American differences though- for example, shopping cart, parking lot, jeans, the Metro/ Subway, are all called different things across the pond!

    🙂 Liz


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