Silverbeet? Brinjal? Rocket Salad? Produce in Translation from Silverbeet? Brinjal? Rocket Salad? Produce in Translation

Silverbeet? Brinjal? Rocket Salad? Produce in Translation

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Silverbeet? Brinjal? Rocket Salad? Produce in Translation

You’re in a grocery store in England or Australia; somewhere in the world where the English language is the default, or used widely enough that grocery items and labels are written in English. And yet, what on earth are lady’s fingers (and why would they be in a grocery store)? Why are those vegetables called marrows? Everything looks familiar, but the nomenclature makes you take a step back. Here are nine produce items that are called by different names in English-speaking countries that are not America.

Butter Fruit

Many know avocados are also called “alligator pears,” but “butter fruit”? India is not the only country that equates the green goodness with butter; the Vietnamese word for avocado, bơ, is the same as the Vietnamese word for butter. Avocados in India are very expensive, as they are not native to the country, and are thus only grown in very limited quantities in Sri Lanka or areas of South India.


In South Asia and South Africa, eggplant is known as “brinjal,” but it is also called “guinea squash,” “melongene,” and “aubergine” in other countries. Another fun fact: since eggplant is a product of the plant nightshade, it is technically a berry. In the United States, Canada, and Australia, “eggplants” are called so because when immature, they are shaped like eggs. Brinjal comes from the Portuguese word for eggplant, brinjela.


Here in America, we call them bell peppers. While capsicum (commonly used in Australia, New Zealand, and India) comes from the Greek word κάπτω (kapto), beaning “to bite” or “to swallow,” bell peppers are called so because of their similarities in taste with black pepper, though they are botanically unrelated to the spice. Some countries call capsicum/bell pepper “paprika,” after the powder that comes from the plant.

Chinese Parsley

While cilantro fell out of use in Greek and Roman cooking, it gained popularity throughout Asia (it was brought there by the Europeans) and was used so frequently in Asian cuisine that Europeans began referring to it as “Chinese parsley.” Cilantro is also generally referred to as “coriander” in India and the United Kingdom, but in America, “cilantro” refers to the leaves and stalks of the plant while “coriander” refers to its seeds.


We know this as “zucchini,” and they are also referred to as “marrows.” However, there are subtle differences between courgettes (as they say in England), zucchinis, and marrows, even though these terms are often used interchangeably in other parts of the world. All three varieties come from the same plant (summer squash), but they are named differently based on their stages of growth. Courgettes are the youngest and smallest, while zucchinis are harvested when the squash plant is about six inches long. Marrows are technically summer squash that have reached full size.

Lady’s Fingers

In India and some other countries, the edible green seed pods of the flowering okra plant are called “lady’s fingers” for their long, slender shape. They are not to be confused with “ladyfinger” (the biscuit) or “lady finger” (the cocktail), neither of which contain okra (thankfully).

Salad Rocket

You’ll almost never see the word “arugula” on menus in the United Kingdom, but you will see “rocket.” In fact, “rocket” is used far more frequently than “arugula” in countries like the U.K., Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand. Though it is fun to believe, the green is not called that because it is shaped a little bit like a rocket, but because it stems from the Latin word for the same plant, eruca. Eruca also sounds an awful lot like the Italian rucola. “Arugula” was first used in the United States in 1960 in a New York Times article by cookbook writer Craig Claiborne.


“Silverbeet” is not the name of a type of beet, but the Australian term for Swiss chard. It actually has several names, all of them a little bizarre-sounding: perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, and mangold. Swiss chard grows from similar plants as beets and spinach, so their names are often conflated. Chard has been cultivated for a very long time; it can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Spring Onion

Scallions are called “spring onions” in Australia, India, Singapore, the U.K., and other countries, and most of its foreign names directly translate to “spring onion” as well. However, in the Caribbean, they are confusingly referred to as “chives,” and in Wales, more obscurely, they are called “gibbons.” Scallion gets its roots from a Latin word for a port in ancient Palestine, named Ascalon, where the little onions grew in abundance.

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Silverbeet? Brinjal? Rocket Salad? Produce in Translation