The Language Barrier

One of the main reasons I chose to come to Edinburgh is because I wouldn’t have to deal with a language barrier. “They speak English, I speak English, it shouldn’t be a problem!” But the Scots DO speak a different dialect, and it’s not just the accent. There are a few usages that are quite familiar to most people: chips are crisps, fries are chips, cookies are biscuits… and don’t ever ask someone about their pants.

Well, I went to the farmers’ market today to get some bread and vegetables, and one of the bakers had a couple of small apple pies.They looked absolutely fantastic, but I didn’t went to spend four pounds for just a small pie. I already had a few ingredients and there was money left over in my food budget so I figured I’d make one myself. One of the few things I was missing was molasses.

First I go to Sainsburys, but they haven’t yet restocked. They don’t even have eggs, let alone molasses. No matter. I go to the co-op on Bruntsfield. They’ve got apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, lemon juice… but no molasses. Finally I ask a young man where the molasses is, thinking I may have missed it. He just gives me a blank stare. He has NO IDEA what molasses is! Never heard of it! He asks a co-worker, and the other fella doesn’t know either! They direct me to a store across the street which imports lots of food, including American specialties. They, at least, have HEARD of molasses but they don’t have any. They direct me to a Real Foods health shop on the next street over, which closes just as I get there.

Dejected and with all the main ingredients but one, I go onto my computer to see if molasses is really just an American thing. And it is… sort of. It turns out that instead of molasses, here in the UK people use treacle. Treacle is also a by-product of sugar but comes from a different part of the process. Who knew? The ironic part: I actually found treacle in the co-op. It looked like molasses but the label was facing away. When it said treacle and not molasses I put it back and continued my wild goose chase. Now I know for tomorrow, and I’ll make sure to tell you all about the “fruits” of my labor.

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2 Comments

  1. musicompsci says:

    I bought one of those pies for 4 quid – it wasn’t like what my grandma makes, but it wasn’t half bad either. It had raisins in it, though, I’ve never seen that. I cut into it, and thought they were beans at first. Well, any port in a storm. I got three breakfasts out of it. And I’m going to make a post soon about all of things I say that cause people to draw blanks, I find that in terms of word choice, people here have a much harder time understanding me than vice versa. .

  2. musicompsci says:

    Also you can get pies about the same size as farmer’s market pies in John Saunderson’s for 1.80. It looks good, I’ll find out if it is.

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