When you travel to North America (presumably for the chance to get messed up on Clamato juice*, fumble with weird coins to gain entry to some random landmark that you probably don’t understand the significance of, or attempt to make up for your lack of personality by brandishing a cool accent) or when foreigners come here to traipse around the Lucky Country, there’s things that every knows are going to be different. Cars are driven on opposite sides of the road, the “lollies” vs “candy” debate still lingers and some people use made-up words like “vacation” and “prom” while normal people (read: Aussies) use perfectly understandable terms such as “arvo”, “suss” and “goon bag”. As it should be.
But there’s also some strange discrepancies between our continents that I had never realised existed until recently. Here’s a taste:
IN THE USA AND CANADA, YOU CAN’T SAY THE C WORD
Yep, that’s right: capsicum.
This scenario reared its ugly head when I attempted to purchase the culinary delight that is a Subway sandwich and the sandwich artist informed me they don’t stock capsicum. This is despite me being able to see said capsicum clearly about 20 centimetres in front of my face. During later encounters with Subway I tried to avoid repeating this horrifying situation by using the term “peppers” instead of “capsicum” whenever I ordered. Trying to get down with the local lingo and all that, you know? Turns out this is also wrong. It’s “green peppers” dammit! Who knew specifying a colour could be so intensely linked to whether you receive a tasty sub or not?
Also, dropping the other “C” word is ridiculously offensive there too. Don’t do that.
THERE ARE NO MEAT PIES
This is a tragedy. I can’t even deal. Imagine a world where you’ve never had the chance to sample the mouth-watering flavour combination of crumbly pastry, delicious minced beef all topped off with the world’s favourite condiment – tomato sauce. Just awful. Pray for their dear souls.
THEY’VE NEVER HEARD OF SKIPPY THE BUSH KANGAROO
I mean, who doesn’t need a badass kangaroo in their life that can relay essay-length news to humans of kids stuck down an abandoned mine shaft (again!) with merely a twitch of its snout? “What’s that, Skip? Americans and Canadians are missing out?” Yep.
DUMMIES ARE FOR DUMMIES
You know those secret weapons that make babies stop wailing uncontrollably? Apparently they’re only known as dummies in Australia. Elsewhere – and not just in North America – they have different names entirely. This is a lesson I learnt the hard way when stuck between two crying tots in a car in England with their parents telling me to “Stick the dodie in their mouths!” in attempt to muffle their screams. I found out later dodies are the equivalent of what we call dummies and which are called binkies or pacifiers in the States. This information should surely be on a travel brochure or something. And those babies – I’m convinced they could smell my fear. I bet they weren’t even distressed, they were just secretly delighting in the fact that I had no idea what a dodie was and just wanted to wreak some havoc. Well played little ones, well played.
*Clam and tomato juice – not as disgusting as it sounds. Big in Canada.