I've been studying abroad in Northern England for almost two months now, and it's definitely taken some time to get used to the differences between things here and back home in America. Usually, food is great common ground for a conversation ('cause everyone's gotta eat, right?), but every once in a while, I stumble upon some major cultural differences. 

Major meaning that either the American or British person in the conversation would yell, "You guys cook this how!?" or, "What did you call that?!" and a bunch of friends will then be texted to give input about how crazy Americans/Brits are. Here are some of the differences that I've come across so far.

1. Chips

This is probably one of the more well-known differences between what we call our food. Chips in England are French fries back home, and they’re generally a thicker cut. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a menu that advertises French fries in England, though, and that usually means the thinner, crispier variety of fries.

On the other hand, what we call chips in America, they call crisps. And they have weird flavors like prawn cocktail and tomato ketchup. No thanks.

2. Pigs in a Blanket

When one of the British girls I live with found out that pigs in a blanket means something different to me, I think it broke her a little bit. Apparently they usually eat pigs in a blanket at Christmas and it’s little mini sausages wrapped in bacon, whereas the US version is a baby hot dog wrapped in dough.

I haven’t tried them in the UK yet, but the pictures I’ve been shown look oddly unappetizing, and I’m told they taste bangin’.

3. Smarties

I’m not the biggest fan of American Smarties to begin with, but British Smarties are like M&Ms, but worse in my opinion. Above, you can see the Smarties I grew up with—chalky tablets of unidentifiable flavor. Definitely not a fave, but not particularly offensive either.

Liza Wolf

And this is the English version. A little bit of chocolate coated in a thick layer of candy. These confuse me because first, you can’t even taste the chocolate, and second, I think they’re supposed to be flavored, but only the orange and brown ones actually taste like something. I don’t think either side actually wins this battle for me to be honest; they’re both candies I would eat, but not really enjoy. 

4. Jelly

At home, jelly is half of the most iconic duo…peanut butter and jelly. In England, not only is peanut butter and jelly not a thing, but their jelly is what I would call jello, like what this rainbow jello cake is made out of.

And what I would call jelly, they call jam. Or conserve, I think. I haven’t figured out the difference between jam and conserve, but I have learned that for some reason conserve is way more expensive. The more you know.

5. Milky Ways

Are you ready for things to get confusing? So the Milky Ways in England are like Three Musketeers bars in America and the American Milky Ways are like Mars Bars in England. There are also Milky Bar candies in the UK, which are totally different than Milky Ways and Mars bars. Basically, we have lots of the same candies, but they’re all called different things.

6. Pudding

When I think of pudding back home, it’s the chocolate pudding cups I ate as a kid. Every once in a while I start craving them, but then I get halfway through one and regret the craving.

In England, pudding can be pudding, or it can be a general word for dessert. Most importantly, however, it can mean Yorkshire pudding. Which has essentially the same base as pancakes, but somehow tastes 1000 times better. The first time my British housemates made Yorkshire Puddings and I got to try them. I ate one, then nearly cried of happiness when I realized I could eat two more.

7. Bacon

The absolute best breakfasts at home involve some good, crispy bacon. Honestly, a definition of a classic, and pretty American as far as foods go.

And now shown above as part of a full English breakfast is English bacon (aka what we would call ham, or at best Canadian bacon). It still tastes good, but every time I forget the difference and order a sandwich with bacon here, I remember it's just not the same. America wins this one for me every time… Sorry, England.

8. Gravy

At home, I’m not a big gravy fan. I’ve just never seen the appeal. While abroad though, oh man. British gravy is actually a million times better than American gravy. Over in England, you get a delicious sauce from onions and stock and all the dripping of whatever meat you were cooking, and it’s the absolute best thing to smother a Yorkshire pudding in.

Compared to the US, where sometimes you get that yummy brown gravy, but also sometimes you just get a basic roux, which isn’t nearly as good.

9. Chicken Bake

Any time my family walks into a Costco, my sister immediately asks if she can get a chicken bake. I’ve seen many a chicken bake in my day, the dough with cheese melted on top, stuffed with more cheese and chicken and bacon.

So when I walked into Greggs, a chain cafe in England, and saw something with the same name on the menu, of course I ordered it. And it is not at all the same. Was it good? Yes, it was pastry filled with meat and cheese and you can only go so wrong with that. But, I refuse to believe it’s truly a chicken bake.

10. Tea

The English girls I live with talk about tea a whole bunch. When I first got here, I thought to myself, yep the stereotype is true: British people really love to drink tea. Only to find out that they were only talking about drinking tea like half the time. And the other half they were talking about dinner, because they call dinner, "tea" in Northern England. And sometimes they call lunch, "dinner," just to make things more difficult.

11. Juice

Liza Wolf

I still don’t really understand this one. So in the US, we go to the store and buy some juice and then bring it home, pour it in a glass, and drink it. Boom. Done. The British on the other hand, have juice, which they call fresh juice. Usually, though, they have juice (also called squash, but not like the vegetable) that’s like concentrate of fruit juice and they pour a little in a glass then fill it the rest of the way with water and drink it. Which to me tastes like sugary water. It was described to me as Kool-Aid, but liquid instead of powdered. How does that sound appealing?

On the other hand, as watery as I felt it was when I tried a glass, I also essentially took a shot of the concentrate because I was curious and it was disgusting. So watered down is definitely the better of the two options.

12. Flapjacks

In America, flapjacks are pretty much just another word for pancakes. I’d say flapjacks do tend to be slightly denser than your average pancake if we’re getting technical, but the version across the pond is so different that TBH we don’t have to.

In England, they’re like a granola bar type thing. Basically, the base is oats and it’s baked. There’s usually some sort of fruits/berries or nuts or in there, too. Don’t ask me why they’re called flapjacks, cause I have actually no idea. 

13. Pancakes

Which brings me to my next point. Pancakes in England are basically just crepes. They’re way thinner than the traditional American pancakes or flapjacks, although some places do serve them like I’m used to at home. They’re called the same thing though, so it’s a gamble if you ever order pancakes in a British restaurant. You could ask before you order, but where’s the fun in that?

So if you're someone like me, a food-lovin' American abroad or about to go abroad in England, try and keep some of these in mind to avoid confusion. Or if you just want to hear a British person talk about food so you don't have to worry about any misunderstandings, just ask them about "The Great British Bake-Off" and they'll talk for ages. You can thank me later.