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28 Keys to Decoding British Pub Menus

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Even pubs tucked into the hills and dales of the English countryside have gone global—or at least continental—in recent years, offering such fare as gazpacho and rillettes, but traditional British food abides. Meanwhile, English menus can still befuddle Americans. While most of us know that American “fries” are British “chips” and American “chips” are British “crisps,” it can get trickier. Here’s a glossary to help you out of puzzling menu muddles.

1. COCKLES

From Molly Malone peddling her cockles and mussels, you knew cockles were some kind of shellfish. Well, to be exact, they’re a type of clam, Cerastoderma edule, found in coastal areas of the eastern Atlantic.

2. PUDDING/PUDDING WINE

Your first instinct on being offered a pudding wine is probably, “Thanks very much, but I’ll pass,” but you needn’t. Pudding in British English isn’t just the soft, creamy stuff; it’s any kind of dessert, and a pudding wine is a dessert wine.

3. BLACK PUDDING

On the other hand, you might want to pass on this one. It’s not a dessert but a large sausage made of blood and suet, sometimes with flour or oatmeal.

4. YORKSHIRE PUDDING

That said, many Americans know and love this popover made of baked unsweetened egg batter, typically eaten with roast beef.

5. GAMMON

Gammon can mean the bottom piece of a side of bacon, including a hind leg, but usually refers to ham that has been cured or smoked like bacon.

6. TREACLE

You may have first encountered the word treacle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when the dormouse talks about a trio living at the bottom of a treacle well. And you may know that something overly sentimental is described as “treacle,” meaning it’s something sweet and sticky. That's because it’s the British word for molasses.

7. HIGH TEA

Not to be confused with “afternoon tea” (the posh pinkies-extended, four-o’clock indulgence with crustless cucumber sandwiches, petit fours, and cream tea), “high tea” is a working-class supper that includes a hot dish like meat pie or sausages and is served around 5:00.

8. WELSH RAREBIT

This name for seasoned melted cheese on toast is an alteration of the original early 18th century name, “Welsh rabbit,” a teasing reference to the Welsh who were too poor to afford rabbit.

9. JUGGED

Jugged refers to a whole game animal, most often a hare or rabbit, sometimes a fish, stewed in a tightly covered container such as a casserole or an earthenware jug.

10. POTTED

Potted meat or fish is preserved in a sealed pot or jar.

11. TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE

With or without the hyphens, the name refers to meat, usually sausages, baked in batter. In 1792, Fanny Burney called something “as ill-fitted as the dish they call a toad in a hole,.. putting a noble sirloin of beef into a poor paltry batter-pudding.”

12. (VEGETABLE) MARROW

Marrow refers to several types of summer and winter squash, especially the white-fleshed, green-skinned kind resembling large zucchini. Squash to the English usually means either a racquet game or a soft drink such as lemon or orange squash.

13. COURGETTE

The British use the French word courgette, which translates as “little gourd,” for the squash Americans call by the Italian name zucchini, which also means “little gourds.”

14. SCOTCH(ED) EGG

A Scotch (now often written “Scotched”) Egg is a hard-boiled egg enclosed in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried— typically served cold.

15. JELLY

Did you ever wonder, when listening to “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“’Twas the night before Christmas…”) How much does a bowl full of jelly shake? Imagine instead a bowl full of Jell-O. Although he was an American, Clement Moore was probably using an older meaning of jelly still prevalent in Britain: gelatin.

16. ROCKET

Don’t worry. Your salad isn’t going to shoot into the sky and explode in a pyrotechnical display. Rocket is English for the leafy vegetable Americans know as arugula.

17. SULTANAS

Sultana is short for "sultana raisin," a golden raisin made from the sultana grape, known as the Thompson Seedless in the U.S. It is commonly used in pastries. 

18. SWEDE

A swede is a rutabaga.

19. BANGERS AND MASH

Bangers and mash is a slightly slangy way to say sausages and mashed potatoes. Norman Schur in British English A to Zed, tells of a pub that offered “sausages and mash” for one price in its “public bar” and “sausages and creamed potatoes” at a higher price in the fancier “saloon bar.” Same dish. By the way, in British English, potato (puh-TAY-toe) does not rhyme with tomato (tuh-MAH-toe).

20. BISCUIT

Biscuit can mean either cookie or cracker. The American use of "cracker" is creeping into Britain, but generally cracker in the U.K. refers to the sausage-shaped party favors wrapped in tissue that explode and drop tiny prizes when tugged sharply at both ends. The closest equivalent of the American biscuit is the scone.

21. PORRIDGE

Porridge usually means oatmeal, but it can also be a thick soup. When in doubt, ask.

22. PICCALILLI

Perhaps a blend of “pickle” and “chili”, piccalilli is a condiment made from a mixture of chopped vegetables, mustard, and hot spices.

23. BAP

Since around 1600, "bap" has meant small loaf or roll of bread, made of various sizes and shapes in different parts of Scotland. More recently the word has become a slang term for breast.

24. SHEPHERD’S PIE

A shepherd’s pie usually consists of chopped or ground meat topped with mashed potatoes and baked.

25. PLOUGHMAN’S LUNCH

A ploughman’s lunch is a cold meal, usually including bread and cheese with pickle and salad. “No ploughman ever survived on these scraps,” grumbles a character in Barry Maitland’s 1994 novel The Marx Sisters, but the combination has been a pub standard since the early 19th century.

26. SOLDIERS

Soldiers are thin strips of bread or toast, lined up like soldiers on parade.

27. KNICKERBOCKER GLORY

Mentioned by Graham Greene in Gun for Sale (1936), the Knickerbocker Glory, an elaborate ice-cream parfait that may contain gelatin, cream, fruit, meringue, and sometimes liquor, is still seen on pub menus.

28. CRISPY PIG’S HEAD/ CHARGRILLED OX TONGUE

Sorry. These are just what they sound like.

All images courtesy of iStock. 

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked
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Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"
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