DailyNord en anglais Par | 10H14 | 21 mars 2013

The Northerners’ Deviant Pocket Dictionary – Pas-de-Calais: American

An American isn’t only a dude born in the “USA” as in Bruce Springsteen’s famous song. In the Nord – Pas-de-Calais, our imagination goes way beyond that! DailyNord deciphers how we eat “Yanks” in all shapes and sizes.


At the chippies (French fry vendors for our American friends), an American is first and foremost a French baguette stuffed full of carbs (fricadelle, Mexican, maybe even beef burgers or ham) and, most important of all, served up with a whopping great portion of greasy chips. Why is this called an American in Ch’ti land? No idea whatsoever. It’s like asking an American (a real one, not the sandwich) why they order “French fries” when it’s the Belgians who invented them… Perhaps it comes from the Second World War, when Americans discovered chips in France. Or maybe it’s just because Belgium fries sounds less sophisticated.

Anyway, to get on with the story. It’s only in the North that we are able to interpret “an American” in more than one way. Amongst the impressive choice of sauces at Ch’ti chippies, there’s one called American sauce. But Americans know nothing of it! And they don’t know what they’re missing either as the mayonnaise used, aromatised with shellfish and cognac, without forgetting the onions, shallots and bouquet garni, is “frenchly” divine. Ok, some prefer to put ketchup on our local delight and the name “American” may well have been derived from that. We have to give them the credit they deserve: the main producers of Ketchup are American after all (Heinz and Hunt’s).


The Nord-Pas-de-Calais has also popularised the “American fillet“. Even if the famous fillet was born in Brussels. Why did a Belgium inventor decide to grant American nationality to his raw minced beef recipe? There lies another mystery. Once again, the difference with our national tartar(e) sauce is the addition of mayonnaise. Even if both are seasoned with capers, mustard, onions, etc. Some critics will even go as far as to say that the American fillet has horsemeat as its main ingredient but this really isn’t the right time to speak about that. (see Spanghero)

As we are compiling a Northerners’ Deviant Pocket Dictionary, we won’t include national expressions like an “American shot” when the camera has the actors in frame from the knees up, nor the beautiful blond “Americans” that we smoke, nor the “American quarter of an hour” when it’s the women who invite the men to dance, nor even the “American Class” which could well be employed as a synonym for bling-bling.

The journalist proposing this definition recently heard: “You park like an American”. Literally: with malice or maliciousness but meaning that you can’t manoeuver into a gap. It’s unclear if Americans don’t know how to park or if they have spaces (and cars) that are so big that they never need to turn the steering wheel to get in… But in any case, we understand that “they can’t be arsed to park unless they can drive straight into the gap”; that’s America.

To see all the definitions of The Northerners’ Deviant Pocket Dictionary (Articles in French)


 Click here to see the original article in French

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