Wednesday, February 27, 2008

British Nachos? More like British Crappos

Language is an incredibly interesting concept that I do not claim to understand one whit of. I looked up comparative linguistics on Wikipedia and the article verified my basic concepts of langauge - it can be used to study history, geography, and culture. Unfortunately it did not give me any additional insight into a linguistic curiosity I have been attempting to learn more about. It did make me really want to use the word lexicon in game of Scrabble.

As I am wont to do, I was perusing the internet the other day. I looked up "organic nachos" in Google and came across this site. It took me several minutes of reading before I realized that I was reading a blog from England (the spelling of 'colours' gave it away), and that he wasn't really talking about the kind of nachos that I am accustomed to.

I came to the following realization: In England, because chips are fries, then British nachos are the equivalent of American chips. WTF?!?!?!?!?! A truly egregious and insulting error, I wanted to find out just how pervasive this mislabeling was. I found a snack food company that sells "organic nachos". I also found an encyclopedia entry, dictionary definition, and a couple Wikipedia articles on French Fried Potatoes and Potato Crisps (which appear to be the bastardized version of American chips). I also found a couple of blogs from a temporary expat and a traveler in search of a taste of home.

This gets more interesting within the context of nacho history. In a border town in Texas (long a source of Mexican-American irritation), a Mexican nickname is ascribed to a dish that we would now say was "inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine". The shit proved to be delicious and spread like the proverbial wildfire. Spread so far that it went back across the Atlantic. Once back across the pond, there was a vacuum in the snack product hierarchy and a name was needed to describe a tasty snack. Fortunately the key ingredient of nachos are tortilla chips, which would now bear a new moniker. When did this first happen? Where the expats not savvy or strong enough to set the record straight? Where they too obliterated from Guinness and Bass that the couldn't tell the difference? So many questions and very few resources to investigate this history. Fortunately my trip to London will provide me ample opportunity to research this vast gulf in human knowledge and perhaps correct England's woefully unrefined lexicon.

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