Regular readers of CoffeeSpoons will undoubtedly have noticed that I have been having an on-line dialogue recently with Andrew "White Rabbit" Keogh. Andrew is a London barrister who discovered my blog and began to comment on it; he maintains a fine blog site of his own, and we've been exchanging comments and observations over the past couple of weeks.
The exchange has been fun. It has become obvious that, despite the similarities between our two countries, there are different customs and terminologies that sometimes interfere with our understanding of one another. This became obvious when Andrew posted an interesting commentary about the dearth of good salads in the United Kingdom. I responded, noting that one of my favorite salad ingredients is garbanzo beans. This was a term previously unfamiliar to Andrew. When I told him that they are sometimes referred to as chick peas or hummus, he immediately knew what I was talking about.
In further discussing the differences in terminology and customs, one of Andrew's regular readers quizzed him as to whether he knows what "cilantro" is. Of course, as one who loves Mexican food the way that it is served in the United States, I was immediately familiar with the term. It turns out, though, that the substance that we call "cilantro" in the United States is referred to as "coriander" across the Atlantic.
If I understand correctly it also appears, to my surprise, that those in the United Kingdom sometimes put mayonnaise on salads. I've never seen that done here.
In his most recent comment on CoffeeSpoons, the White Rabbit asked me several questions. These pertain more to me personally than to anything dealing with our culture generally. I answer them now for the edification of any who may be interested.
Question 1: What on earth is a garbanzo bean?
Answer: See above.
Question 2: Can a vegan eat honey? I suppose it's a kind of animal product.
Answer: I think that you are right. While I doubt that a true vegan would eat honey, I don't feel qualified to answer this question. I am actually a vegetarian, but not a vegan. I don't drink milk or eat eggs by themselves, but I do consume some animal products. I discovered early on that it is almost impossible to completely avoid them. Accordingly, I do eat cheese sometimes and, undoubtedly, I occasionally consume some items that have milk and eggs in them.
Question 3: Why has a vegan (vegetarian) got the handle "Meatbe?" I can't see past the 'meat' bit.
Answer: That is funny, isn't it? The nickname actually has nothing to do with my dietary habits. It goes back to when I was in junior high school. I went by "Matt" in those days, and some of my buddies changed it, for whatever reason, and started calling me "Meat." It evolved into "Meatbe," but there's really no great story behind it. My oldest friends call me Meat or Meatbe to this day. One blogger in my home town suggested a year or so ago that they should now change it to "Vegbe," which I found to be a very clever suggestion.
Question 4: I'm curious to know what the sporting event in the background in your profile pic is. Having said that, sport causes even more transatlantic confusion than food methinks.
Answer: In the picture, I am attending a college football game at the University of Illinois. There were almost 60,000 fans at that particular game. College football games are very fun and festive events here. If you ever have the chance to go to one, I would highly recommend it.
Thanks for your questions, my friend. I look forward to continuing our conversations.
--Matthew, a.k.a. the Meatbe