British Cooking Terms vs. American Cooking Terms

Questions and Answers – British Cooking Terms vs. American Cooking Terms



Could you please help me?   I am a retired widower and take a great delight in cooking and I have now many American recipes but I do not know some of the British equivalent ingredients and without this knowledge I am at a loss.  I could not find the British equivalents to the following:


It would make my day if there were British equivalents to the above and would allow me to try out some of your exciting recipes.  Any help you can give me would be very welcome.  Many, many thanks in anticipation of your help.  – Charles Smith   (6/11/01)




CORNMEAL – UK corn flour is the same as U.S. cornstarch.  Potato flour, despite its name, is a starch, and can not be substituted for regular flour.  It often can be substituted for corn starch and vice versa.  In the U.S., corn flour means finely ground cornmeal.

In cakes, especially sponge cakes, it is likely to mean cornstarch, as a coating for fried okra.  It is likely to mean finely-ground cornmeal.  Cornmeal or polenta is not the same thing as cornstarch or corn flour!  What one can buy labeled polenta really looks no different to cornmeal though.  Polenta is commonly used to describe cornmeal porridge but may also be used to mean plain cornmeal.


SQUASH – In the U.S., squash is a type of vegetables (vegetable marrows.)  Check out my web page on different types of squash. The many photos on my squash web page should help you identify the squash:  All About Squash


JICAMA – I do not know what the British call this.  Jicama, a legume, is grown for the large tuberous roots which can be eaten raw or cooked and are used as a source of starch.  The jicama plant is a vine which grows to a length of 20 feet or more.  The roots are light brown in color, and may weigh up to 50 pounds.  Most of those on the market will weigh between three to five pounds.



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Comments and Reviews

4 Responses to “British Cooking Terms vs. American Cooking Terms”

  1. Derek Mathis

    Can someone tell me what the following dish, the name of which I encountered in a Barbara Pym novel, is: “a dish of mince with tomato sauce spread over the top.” I would really like to find out. Thank you.

  2. Kara

    I think that’s what my father would have called ‘a conflopsion’ – something thrown together with whatever ingredients were to hand. ‘Mince’ is minced meat, usually beef unless otherwise specified: ‘lamb mince’, ‘turkey mince’, etc.
    Generally cooked by frying in its own fat with finely chopped onion and maybe some herbs (Hherbs, not ‘erbs in British English) or other seasonings. The tomato sauce suggests Barbara Pym’s cook may have been a devotee of Elizabeth David and attempting something vaguely Italianate. Lasagne without the pasta and garlic, and minus the mozzarella and parmesan?

  3. Deb

    Was she definitely describing a British dish? Is there any chance she was describing American meatloaf since “mince” is ground meat?

  4. Maroussia Richardson

    “Mince” in English, if it appears without any other adjective, is ground beef. And if you say “There’s mince for supper”. You will mean ground beef that has been briefly fried to get rid of some of the fat, along with some sliced or chopped onion, and then had some gravy added (classically this would be Bisto), and simmered until done. Plain boiled potatoes on the side. This is, or was, a very common meal, eaten up and down the land.


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