It has taken three Aprils and nearly as many Mays for me to feel like I’m getting the hang of living in Britain, for it to feel like home. Along with the obvious (time passed, friendships formed, residence herein), uncountable little things contribute: bookstore selections, snack aisles of grocery stores, television program(me)s. 

Having a baby, raising one, feeding her - or at least cooking for her: this is my most domestic moment. And one I simply have not had in America. England English is then in some sense my mothering mother tongue. It’s also an unspeakable language in America - for the American to speak, at least.

What could be sillier and more humiliating than an American (in America, mostly) with a British affect? It’s a rhetorical question: really, truly nothing in the world could be a more laughable distance or language to straddle. So laugh I must - at myself, at my predicament: do I call it an aubergine or an eggplant, arugula or rocket, a buggy or a pram or a stroller or just like, a chariot?

What's better than lemon tart with creme fraiche and porridge on the side? NOT MUCH.

In any event, and reason aside, the place I feel myself most English, at present, is the kitchen. My shopping list is now peppered with names like kitchen (or toilet) roll, and bin liners, and courgettes. I know to look for eggs with the flour, not refrigerated with the milk. I expect thin, recycled, short paper products; brilliant golden yolks; tiny bananas; watery avocados. I acknowledge that oatmeal is called porridge, made with milk rather than water. I kind of prefer “tins” of sardines to “cans” of them…

We keep butter on the counter next to the eggs, and the appliance we use most often is our electric kettle (thank you Ben Stein). I no longer notice the complication presented by separate cold and hot taps, even if I do still bristle every day as I hang up wet laundry to dry. It’s inevitable.


A (Non-Alphabetical, Informal) British - America Glossary (for Absolute Beginners)

Tin - Can (i.e., of soup, sardines, beans)

Pudding - Dessert

Pie - Food enrobed in pastry, possibly a pudding but probably not

Coriander - Cilantro, unless it's really coriander (seeds) you're after, in which case you can still say "coriander"

Crisps - Chips

Chips - Freedom fries (the chunky ones)

Aubergine - Eggplant (noun or adjective)

Courgette - Zucchini

Surgery - Doctor’s Office (terrifying)

Jabs - Shots, I mean Injections

Ta - Thanks

Cheers - Something nice like thank you

To Let - For Rent

Enclosure - Pen for containing animals or small children 

Garden - Yard

Bath - Bathe

Smart - Handsome

Brilliant - Smart

Take Away - To Go, or Takeout (it's cheaper than staying, go figure)

Bill - Check

Gousto - Blue Apron

Off - Bad, like rotten

Left - Right

Buggy, Pram - Stroller (I've been using three for like a year and I have no idea what the difference is...)

Nappy - Diaper

Cot - Crib

Crib - Illicit copying

Trousers - Pants

Jumper - Sweater

Vest - Undershirt

Tea - Beverage best enjoyed in the afternoon, or dinner when you're talking to someone more English

Booking - Reservation

Holiday - Vacation

Bother - Trouble

Quite  - Unfortunately yes (delivered with raised eyebrows it's basically an admonishment)


Cover Image from Barbican website:

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