Food Terms to Avoid Abroad

Cookies are Bad in Hungarian

Ask for a cookie in Hungary, and the waiter will throw you out of the restaurant, especially if your question is “Do you have a cookie?” That’s because, in Hungarian, the same word (or combo of sounds) means “small penis.” Oops. To avoid getting tossed on your tush, here are 7 other English food-related words that must never be uttered overseas…unless you don’t mind cruising for a bruising.

Bite

“Can I have a bite?” Careful now! While in English a bite means a morsel of food, in France it means “penis” (again with the male organ, although this time, size doesn’t matter). In all honesty, you’d be fine saying this out loud, because the French pronunciation of bite is [bee-teuh]. But the spelling is identical, which could get tricky.

Salsa

Nothing like a big bowl of chips and salsa at a barbecue, tailgate, or parked in front of the TV—just you and the bowl and a whole lot of noshing. If you had salsa in Korea, however, you’d have diarrhea…and a considerably worse afternoon.

Peaches

Ah, sweet peaches. Georgia—the proud Peach State—plants, nurtures, and harvests the sweetest peaches in the country. Nothing wrong here in the USA. But a Georgia peach farmer traveling in Turkey would have some explaining to do. Peach means “bastard” over there.

Preservatives

People across the world are becoming more health conscious, taking the time to read food labels and find preservative-free food. Not everyone wants to eat salad dressing containing a chemical also found in antifreeze. Just know that, when in a French-speaking country, asking for “preservative-free” food will be interpreted as “condom-free” food. Reminds us of wrangling bananas in sex-ed class.

Ghee

Ghee is a Hindi-derived word used in English as another way to say “clarified butter.” A common ingredient in Indian food, ghee is also trending in the US as a healthy fat. But, in Kurdish—a language spoken in parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria—ghee means “sh*t.” Not a beautiful golden color. Also not edible (we should’ve said that first).

Fish sticks

Ok, we’re stretching this one a little bit, because fish sticks only sounds a lot like something else really bad in German. Our advice: if you just can’t control your mad craving for fish sticks in Germany, take great pains to enunciate carefully. Otherwise, the waiter could very easily hear “I’d like to order a big plate of f*** you, please.”

Gerber

Finally, for those of you traveling to France—or any French speaking country—with baby chicklets in tow, you’ll want to be aware that Gerber (as in the baby food brand) means “to vomit” in French. For that very good reason, the brand hasn’t made its way across the pond.

Some might agree that the grey and orange mush masquerading as peas and carrots indeed looks more like puke, but Gerber turkey and chicken sticks are pretty tasty. You’ll have to stay in the US to eat them though.

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