Have you ever wondered what they call French fries in France? Or if it’s called a “Belgian” waffle in Belgium? Or if they still refer to them as Danishes in Denmark? What about English muffins in England?
We are happy to provide answers. In order to improve your international vocabulary (and to allow you to eat deliciously all around the world), here’s a cheat sheet to what to call these beloved international foods in their native habitats.
Nope, they don’t call ‘em “French fries” in France. If you want to be quite proper, you’d order “pommes de terre frites” (simply, “fried potatoes”). But few people are so formal about such a casual food, so it’s far more likely you’ll be ordering “pommes frites,” or “frites.” For example, the popular French dish “steak-frites” is composed of — you guessed it — steak and fries.
It’s worth noting that the traditional fries in France are more like what Americans would call “steak fries.” The specific fast food style of fries we’re familiar with in the U.S. are sometimes referred to as “aiguillettes” (little needles) or “allumettes” (matchsticks).
With their crispy exterior, fluffy interior, and lightly sweet, delicious flavor, Belgian waffles make a delightful breakfast, brunch, or anytime snack. But what do they call these delectable treats in Belgium?
As it turns out, there are actually two variations of this famous waffle in Belgium: Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle.
While they look similar, there are distinct differences. "Gaufre de Bruxelles," or Brussels waffles, are leavened with either egg whites or yeast, cooked on a waffle iron, have a very light texture, and tend to have larger pockets and squared-off edges. These are the type of waffles you’ll see labeled as “Belgian waffles” on menus in the U.S.
Liège waffles (also called “gaufres de chasse” or “hunting waffles”) are still cooked on a waffle iron, but their edges may be more free-form or rounded. They are slightly denser and chewier than Brussels waffles and are often served with pearl sugar. They’re a popular street food in Belgium, and their name comes from the province they are said to hail from in Belgium, which isn’t far from the Netherlands border.
It’s hard to resist the siren call of this laminated pastry, which often comes filled with a decadent cheese or sticky, sweetened fruit filling. But the pastry that we call a Danish in the United States is a bit more of a complex topic in Denmark.
In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, it’s an entire category of pastry referred to as wienerbrød (or wienerbröd), which means "Viennese bread." Why Viennese? Because this style of baking is derived from the Austrian style of baking referred to as “Viennoiserie.”
And in Denmark, there are a number of different variations on this classic pastry, including versions that are topped with jam or preserves, filled with custard, or augmented with marzipan... and the list goes on. However, the version closest to what we call a Danish in the U.S. is referred to as “Kopenhagener Plunder,” which is a nod to Copenhagen.
Gotta love those nooks and crannies, right? While what we call English muffins have evolved from an English treat, they don’t get so fancy as to call them “English” in their native country. When you purchase these airy discs of delicious carbohydrate bliss in England, they’re simply called “muffins.” However, they’re nowhere near as popular as another like-minded British delight – the crumpet.
Of course, you may be wondering about another important question: Do they eat American-style muffins such as blueberry or corn muffins in England? Yes, indeed, but those are referred to as American or American-style muffins.
Nothing like a little food trivia to work up an appetite! While these carbohydrate-filled delights are delicious no matter what you call them, now you know how to refer to them in their native lands. Now, who’s ready to eat?