Is it so different?
The truth is that, yes, when it comes to food, each Spanish speaking country has its variations and peculiarities. This shouldn’t come as any great surprise given that even within countries and regions there are differences.
Why did we make these videos?
We were lucky enough to be able to work with Jeff and Omar from Mexico and Diana from Puerto Rico in a collaborative video on the different names that each country has for the key food groups. We never realised just how distinct Spanish food vocabulary could be.
Will I be understood?
Fortunately, these days our world has become that much smaller thanks to the internet, television and films. Most Spanish speakers have had access to the vocabulary and language idiosyncrasies of other countries and so, in general, you would be understood if you used a word from Spain in Mexico, for example: Ternera (beef in Spain) rather than Carne de res (beef in Mexico).
Whatever the case, just a few simple questions can normally clear up any confusion.
The Patatas/Papas Fritas conundrum.
I recall being in a Mexican bar and ordering “una ración de papas fritas con salsa de tomate” (y chile….always chile) only to be disappointed when what arrived was a bowl of crisps (or chips in the USA) covered in tomato sauce. I thought I was ordering chips/fries and so wasn’t best pleased with the tasteless crisps that were rapidly becoming a soggy mess at the bottom of the bowl.
I had no idea how to remedy the situation and so I had no choice than to “callarme” (shut up) and eat what I had.
The same issue applies in Spain. The difference between Crisps/chips and chips/fries is confusing (just like in English!).
The best way to avoid confusion is to say:
“Me trae/da unas patatas/papas fritas de bolsa” = Can you bring/give me some crisps/chips in a bag?
Or, you can say: “Me trae/da un plato de patatas/papas fritas naturales, no de bolsa?”= Can you bring/give me a plate of natural not bagged chips/fries?
Or, you could just ask for something else! Más fácil.
Finally, one word unites all three countries!
As we go through all of the main food groups in the videos, you will notice that there is one kind of meat that has the same name in all three countries. Can you guess what it may be? You will recognise which meat it is by the round of applause we give it.
Warning: All these words are still regional.
We have learnt that just because someone is from a country that does not mean that they can speak for the entire country.
The words we offer you will still be regional and so there is always the possibility that others from the same countries will disagree with what we say. It’s inevitable and, personally, I believe this is what makes Spanish food vocabulary so interesting and unique.
We hope you enjoy this look into some Spanish food vocabulary and expect to feel a little hungry afterwards!
p.s. Sorry for the occasional editing issue. This was a bitch to edit and me costó muchas horas. 🙁