The Great Applesauce Mystery

There is a lot of debate among my family and friends back home about whether or not my accent has changed in the many, many years I've lived in the U.K. My 15-year anniversary in this country is coming up at the end of this month, so it's amazing that I've retained as much of an American accent as I have. I often do get congratulated by people here that I still sound "American". I'm not sure how else to sound, but I am secretly pleased to not have developed a transatlantic affectation.

But the vocabulary that I use, that certainly has changed. In my view, there are at least three levels to usage of the words in U.K. parlance.

The first are the words that every American knows. Included in this category are words like lift (elevator), chips (fries), petrol (gas), car boot (trunk), loo or toilet (restroom).

Then comes round two. The everyday words that you would just never know from watching movies. But it's useful when you live in a place to know things like kitchen roll (paper towels), loo roll (toilet paper), washing-up liquid (dish soap), cling film (saran wrap), crisps (potato chips), pound shop (dollar store) and of course, bin (garbage can).

There are also colloquialisms that you have to learn. Bad neighborhoods are "dodgy". If you "table" something you put it on the table, not off. Not to mention "quite". This is the trickiest of them all. Americans use "quite" to mean "very" whereas Brits actually mean not-so-much.

If someone says this blog post is "quite good" it means: it was O.K., I guess.

So far, so good. But for me, there was one mystery that I just couldn't solve. It took me over 10 years to figure this one out:

What do the Brits call applesauce?

You see, in the U.K. there is something called apple sauce. You buy it in a small jar in the supermarket and it's a sweet sauce you might dip your pork into. But it's not like American applesauce. I kept looking for jars of Mott's at the store and couldn't find anything like them. And when I would ask people what it was called here they just looked at me blankly and said "apple sauce?".

But it wasn't the same thing. Eventually I just kind of gave up. I also realized that I never ever saw anyone eating it anywhere.

And then, one day, my in-laws were trying to get us to take excess apples home from their orchard. They had had a bountiful year. My father-in-law casually mentioned that he had been making a big batch of stewed apples. I said, "what do you mean? what is that?" thinking, oh my God, he's talking about applesauce! And he was. I couldn't believe it.

Mystery solved. I knew I married the Hub for a reason.

Photo credit: wayneandwax 1st applesauce 2014 # via photopin (license)


  1. I'm heartened that after almost 15 years you're still learning; coming up on nine years myself, it's surprising that I still have to ask Tim what he means when he uses certain terms (favourites being Cockney rhyming slang, the second language of criminals and criminal barristers)!

    1. The second language of criminals and criminal barristers!? I'd love to read a blog post from you on that. I am probably not aware of those terms either!


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