The Confusing British Pudding Course Explained

Did you know that there are certain things that are essentially the same but have different names in different countries? When it comes to foods, for instance, zucchini is called courgette in the U.K., while eggplant is known as aubergine. 

But things get more complicated with other foods. There are some food names that are completely misleading in different parts of the world. Fries are known as chips in the U.K., and what we in the U.S. know as chips are called crisps across the pond, referring to fried thin potato slices. And if you're ever in the U.K., and can't find a grilled cheese sandwich, you might want to look for a cheese toastie on their menus, which is the same thing (via Reader's Digest). But one of the most confusing food items is the British pudding course. 

What is a pudding, anyway? In the U.S., pudding typically refers to "sweet desserts of milk or fruit juice" thickened and flavored with anything from eggs and rice to flour and cornstarch. One exception is hasty pudding, which is essentially a mush made from cornmeal, per Britannica. But in the U.K., pudding is referred to as something completely different.

British puddings can be savory or sweet

Vox reveals that many people don't have a clue about what a British pudding really is, and folks who like to spend their free time watching the popular British baking competition show, "The Great British Bake Off," come to that realization especially fast. For starters, American puddings are closely linked to something called a custard in the U.K. British puddings can be a sweet or savory dish, typically prepared by boiling or steaming in a cloth or a dish. The earliest puddings were sausages called black puddings, made with pig's blood and steamed in animal intestines. Later on, these puddings evolved to have different meanings. 

Atlas Obscura reports that there are at least six types of different puddings in the U.K. Besides black pudding, there's Yorkshire pudding, a savory quickbread usually served with roasts; Christmas pudding, a fruitcake that's boiled or steamed. Steak and kidney pudding is actually a meat pie, while pease pudding is a thick soup made from split peas. Finally, there's the sticky toffee pudding, a sweet dessert cake made with dates and caramel syrup. There are so many different puddings that even the British might have a hard time differentiating one from another.

Now that you know all the differences, you can safely travel to the U.K. without the fear of ordering the wrong thing. And even if you end up ordering the wrong item, it's best not to worry because these puddings are all equally delicious.