Thursday, July 31, 2008

What a Fun Country!

Towards the end of our stay in Port Stephens, they began to have organized activities for the children.  It was late December and the summer holidays were beginning (that's probably going to sound very weird to any American readers I might have).

I took Jack to an arts and crafts session.  Jack was nervous about separating from me so with the blessings of the counselor/instructor, I stayed.

While the kids did artistic stuff, I chatted with the instructor.  We talked about Australia and the time he spent in America.  hen he filled me in on what children's activities would be happening further in the week...when we'd unfortunately not be there anymore.

One of the things he said was that they were going to take the kids down to the beach and they'd have an ice block.

I had no idea what an ice block was, but it sounded spectacular.  I pictured a huge block of ice that the kids got to climb on and play all over. Slipping and sliding. Chasing each other in circles around the block.

I don't know. It sounded awesome.  This further confirmed my belief that Australia had to be the best country in the world. (note: the first thing that confirmed this for me was at a food stand in Circular Quay.  They sold donuts with lollipops inside!  Can you beat that?)

I finally asked what an ice-block was.  

It's what we Americans call a Popsicle.

Lovely.  But not as exciting as a big huge chunk of ice.

I guess playing with a huge chunk of ice in a country plagued by drought might not be the most responsible activity. Although, is it any different than swimming in a pool?

Anyway..... just for fun.

Here is a list of foods that have a different name in Australia.

This list is more for the few American readers I have.

Australians tend to know more about Americans than Americans know about Australians. So they probably already know most of this.

They even know who our President is.

Americans....Do you know who the Prime Minister of Australia is?

Ha. I rest my case.


The list (along with my personal judgements of what name is better):

1. COTTON CANDY=FAIRY FLOSS  (I prefer the American name.I mean fairy floss is adorable, but come on. That stuff really DOES look like cotton.)

2. SPRINKLES= 100's and 1000's ( I prefer the Australian in this case. Look! It's promoting mathematics to children!)

3. GUMMI=JELLY  (I prefer the Australian. Jelly makes me think of the nice stuff you put on toast. Gummi makes me think of an old person who has lost their teeth)

4. RICE KRISPIES = RICE BUBBLES (I like the American. Rice bubbles makes me think I'm going to get gas.

5. RAISINS= SULTANAS  (I think I like them equally)

6. PAPAYA=PAW PAW  (I like the American better, but the Australian is cute too)


Proof of the beauty of Australia.


  1. We actually have raisins and sultanas here in Australia.

    From Wiki: "In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, the word raisin is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with sultana being a dried large white grape, and currant being a dried small Black Corinth grape."

  2. Rodney,

    I saw something like that when I was confused me though.

    Do you see raisins a lot in Australia? I know my cousin had little boxes in the house (the kind you give to kids) and the package said "Sultanas."

    So....the stuff people snack on, are they usually Sultanas, raisins....or either one?

  3. I snack on sultanas. In fact, I am doing so right now. I have always been under the impression that raisins were larger and more often used for cooking. But as I avoid cooking at all costs, I'm not certain of that.

    I also avoid Vegemite at all costs.

    So here's a reverse food oddity....A couple of years ago when I was on an American airlines domestic flight, I bought a snack-pack (who knew that you don't get fed on flights over there??) which contained strawberry flavoured cranberries.

    Yep, a fruit flavoured to taste like another fruit - which it actually didn't, it just tasted sort of vaguely pink....

    Nothing could beat that for gastronomic culture shock!!

    Have a delightful weekend :)

  4. For snacking it's usually sultanas, raisins are used mostly in cooking - raisin bread, fruit cake and so on.

    You didn't touch on the whole cookie/biscuit/scone confusion :)

  5. They're sultanas in those little packs..raisins are smaller and darker.

    lmao at the vegemite one!

    Another one that came to mind whilst reading your list:

    jelly = jam (so we have peanut butter and jam sandwiches here and my weird daughter is probably the only Aussie that loves them)

    cookies = biscuits (and you call biscuits some type of a bread roll thing)

    There is more but my brain isn't working as it should today

  6. I actually thought you meant there was a lollipop hidden inside the donut-- haha.
    I was also going to note that it was my understanding that a sultana is different from a raisin- THOUGH, rodney has already said that.. and I wasn't sure because there are little boxes of what appear to be plain old raisins which say sultanas on the box-- so I'm just confused.

    Yippie, a readable word verfication, I feel like I won the lottery.

  7. Hi, Dina

    I like to have (extra) sultanas on my meusli in the morning.

    My mum uses raisins and sultanas, along with some brandy in her Christmas (fruit) cake. Yummy with warm custard and ice cream for dessert.

    Many people would eat sultanas ( from teh white grapes) for a snack - I'll eat them by the handful.


  8. that's right.

    raisins often have a seed.

    sultanas are smaller and sweeter, just like you dina.

  9. Gina: LOL. I think we realize to see how crazy something is until someone from another country points it out to us. The fruit flavored like another fruit is very weird. They do it with a lot of stuff. Prunes that taste like oranges. Apple sauce that tastes like strawberries.

    I think for Australians who don't like you all don't get attacked by the pro-vegemite masses. I think they should sell jars of fake vegemite. But instead of vegemite, it would have chocolate inside.

    I hope you have a good weekend too!

  10. Mim: I forgot about the cookie/bisquit/scone thing. Oops!

    There was a website about an Aussie living in America. She did a great job of explaining it. Did you ever see it?

    I forgot how it went, but I remember she ended by saying what we call Scone in America is pretty much crap.

    I also forgot the chips/fries thing.

  11. Tracey:

    Here we have jelly, jam, preserves, and marmelaide. I have no idea what the difference is. I think they're just trying to confuse us.

    I heard somewhere that Americans have much more choices at grocery stores.

    We're bombarded with decisions. That's why we're so incredibly stressed all the time--oh that and George W. Bush.

    Laura: Maybe you can invent donuts with lollipops inside!! Then I bet you will forever be rewarded with easy verification words. It's your destiny!

  12. John: You sound like me. I like to add raisins to everything. Sadly, I add them to my raisin bran--as if there weren't enough raisins already.

    Tribog: Thanks : )
    Do you find raisins with the sultanas at the store. Or is it in a different section? I don't remember ever seeing raisins anywhere.

  13. don't know, I never buy raisins. Probably in the same area - dried fruit.

    The only people I know who buy raisins are those who make fruit cakes.

  14. I'm an Australian.
    Born and Raised.

    As an Australian, like a lot of Australian's, I tend to believe that our former Prime Minister, was your President's biatch.
    Possibly the current one, too?

    Depending on what generation of Australian you speak to, what foods are called, will differ.

    Ice-Block? What the? I call it an Icipole.

    Sprinkles = Sprinkles. 100's & 1000's when I was a kid.

    And Vegemite. Oh god, steer clear of that stuff. I can't stand the taste of it.

    I guess I'm just not that Australian?

    Oh. Sultanas, are the little ones you snack on. Raisins, are the bigger ones you find in Raisin Toast, and Fruit Cake. I personally rather enjoy Raisin Toast :) - Not so much Sultana's.

  15. Nate,

    I would appreciate you not saying bad things about George. He's my cousin.

    No, I'm joking. But I so wanted to do that when I was in Australia....get someone to bash Bush (all you have to do is speak and let them hear your accent) and then I wanted to say "He's my cousin. Leave him alone!!"

    Seriously. I agree with you about Howard and Bush. I hope you're wrong about Rudd. I think the saluting thing was innocent. Maybe....hopefully he was kind of joking.

    I love Raisin toast. I should buy some.


  16. Sorry Dina, but when you come to stay you're going to have to put up with my love of vegemite :-D Every morning for breakky on toast! Tara loves it too.

    This has been a funny post and comments to read :-)

    I love the new you with this blog. Not that you are new (well you're not old either but you know what I mean)'s just more of "you" seems to shine through. So much more of your happiness. Loving it.


  17. Tracey....

    Great. Torture the American tourists with the Vegemite.

    Thanks for liking this blog.

    I like it better too--puts less emotional stress on me.

  18. Plus I also think gummi means condom in most of Europe or, literally, "rubber".

  19. Actually you can find raisins and sultanas next to each other in my supermarket made by the same company in virtually the same packaging but with the different name and they look so similar that I still don't know the difference. The nutrition information is only very slightly different but there must be a difference. Maybe you also have both in the US.

    Of course, sultana is the female version (or wife of the) Sultan (which means in Arabic "Power/Authority"). Raisn in Arabic appears to be "zabeeb" and sultana is "sultana" so they have the two things as well.

  20. For completeness and just to be completely irrelevant, zabeeb is also used to mean "currant". It may depend on where you live in the Middle East.

  21. Speaking of rubber, we used to call what you call erasers rubbers here. The usage (rubber is also slang for condom in Australia) always used to be good for a few school boy snickers in my day. Now I think they say eraser here, too. We are gradually becoming more Americanised. We also used to call Peanut Butter peanut paste and didn't used to celebrate halloween - outside the Catholic Church (and then not by trick or treating). The changes keep coming. I hope I don't sound too bitter. I just prefer not to copy EVERYTHING they do in the US as we seem to gradually do.

  22. Martin,

    When I wrote this post, I was quite surprised that it generated so many comments. All I could think was, Wow those Australians sure do like to talk about their raisins!

    And now here you are....coming forth as another typical raisin-obsessed Aussie.

    In all the books I've read, no one has mentioned this raisin/sultana obsession. I need to write my OWN book about this.

    Do raisins and sultanas come from the Middle East? I mean did they come up with the idea.

    I think I meant to find sultanas in the grocery store here, but I don't think I ever got around to doing it. We have so much dried fruit...and if you read Gina's comment, she's totally right. We even have fruit flavored as other fruit. The Sultanas would probably get lost in the crowd.

    My guess is that we have sultanas, but we just call them raisins. I could be wrong though.

    Rubber for eraser seems familar to me. I wonder if we ever used that in America, or am I just thinking of something I've learned from Australia. I'm getting my brain confused.

    Yeah. Australia absorbs too much American culture. It wouldn't be so bad if the exchange was more even. We do say a lot of "no worries" here if that's any consolation.

    Someone wrote on their blog recently about the reluctance to celebrate Halloween. I've heard it before, but reading it again...I suddenly realized it reminded me of how Jewish families feel so pressured to celebrate Christmas.

    We saw it on TV and in children's books. We heard our friends talk about it. We wanted Christmas at our house too! It didn't matter that we got Chanukah presents and our own celebrations, we wanted Christmas!

    Also, I see Australians who seem to have disgust towards anything American. I mean most people I've seen are like you...not hateful, but a bit disturbed by the trend. But I have seen people who are downright hateful towards anything that comes from America. It reminds me of a stage I went through. When I got all into the Jewish-thing, I went through a stage of hating anything Christmas-related. I didn't want to hear Christmas music. I didn't want people saying "Merry Christmas" to me. I became pretty much anti-Christmas.

  23. Actually I even looked up the meaning of things in the Oxford Concise English Dictionary because I couldn't sleep and sultanas are a light coloured seedless raisin so one is a type of the other BUT it also said that sultana was a British usage so maybe you DON'T have anything called sultanas there. You can probably tell I was a bit manicky last night when I was writing. I'm not actually obsessed about such things usually.

    I did a quick google search for you, however, and it appears that both grapes and dried grapes are probably of Turkish origin and Sultana grapes and their dried version may be of Turkish, Greek or Iranian origin. There is apparently a legend involving a Sultan accidentally leaving his grapes in the sun hence the name. And also zabeeb is also the Arabic name for a liquor produced from the zabeeb (I'm not sure if it's alcoholic or if it's a popular drink or used in recipes like the kirsch in the Schwarz walder kirsch torte - kirsh means both cherry and an alcoholic cherry liquor used in Black Forest Cake so that's why I thought of it and decided to give a short German lesson).

    And thanks for your appreciation of my humour in a recent comment I made, by the way.

  24. Martin,

    I love the sultan story.

    I wonder if the raisin drink would be like prune juice. Do you guys drink that in Australia? (prune juice).

    Have you eaten a lot of Middle Eastern food?

    I'm reading Wikipedia right now about sultanas and Americans. It says most of the raisins we consume ARE sultanas, but we just call them raisins. We have raisins, and then golden raisins.

  25. The 'golden' raisins might be the sultanas, I'm guessing. We certainly have prunes here and they usually come in juice. I think we also have prune juice but I don't indulge. We all learn from birth here that prunes are good for ... our digestion.

    As for Middle Eastern food, we have a lot of Lebanese food traditionally in Australia and I love it. We don't have as much Jewish food readily available as I would like as I hear so much about its wonders from US TV. I hope to try it but I really haven't yet (unless you count salmon, cream cheese, spanish onion and capers on a bagel - one of those is called locks, isn't it?) I'm guessing many dishes would be similar to Lebanese dishes. Yumm!