I asked a question , because I'd search for "kohl rabi" which is what the ingredient is called over here, and not found anything.

I suspect there are hundreds of differences in ingredient names (what is shortening?), or even cooking methods (what is a broiler?) Which I fear may limit the effectiveness of the site without tweaking the search to allow for the synonyms out there -- either that or there needs to be a lot of editing to keep this site being relevant to a worldwide audience.

What do you think can be done to keep this applicable to a worldwide audience?

  • The fact that you are speaking about "internationalization" implies that the site is intended by design for a specific country. Shouldn't SE sites be country-agnostic?
    – Wizard79
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 7:38
  • @Lorenzo Iternationalisation is about working for all cultures (so being able to handle Japanese, Italian and English all together); localisation is about making something specific for a specific locale (so things like translation, currency and number formatting, etc.) Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 8:02
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    @Lorenzo More of a worry for me is that at least some of the US contingent appear to be arrogant about things, and come across as impatient that nobody else knows what they're on about. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 8:50

4 Answers 4


I have to say, as a Brit I'm feeling like I'm less likely to remain a regular user of this site over time. I don't think so much it's the language/terminology issues - we seem to be managing perfectly well with everyone posting in their own local derivative of English, which seems in the majority to be American English (My only personal bug-bear is grilling & broiling in American English not being what I expect, and I have to make a conscious effort when reading these terms).

Obviously from a personal standpoint it would be easiest if everything was written in English, but I'm happy to research ingredient names or translate units as and when appropriate. In fact I reguarly do this already to some extent, considering I often use recipes from my girlfriend's native French (often written in Ch'ti to further complicate matters!).

What I do find difficult, however, is understanding posts that assume a US audience, or make reference to American culture as assumed knowledge. Things like assuming an ingredient will or won't be available, or that it will come in a given form (eg. In many countries UHT milk is the norm, whereas as I Brit I'm more used to HT/SL, flash-pasteurised, milk).

To summarise somewhat, I don't particuarly think we need to worry too much about ingredient names or units of measure - at the end of the day a salmon is a salmon, regardless of what you call it. What I do think we really need to be careful of are assumptions we make about where other users come from. Obviously some questions will have to be region-specific, but then I feel they should be tagged as such.

Other sites that I'm an active member of manage to make it easy for everyone, such as photo.stackexchange.com and of course stackoverflow.com, so I don't see why we can't.

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    A classic example would be: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/2145/… Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 17:57
  • Yup, that's just the sort of thing.
    – Edd
    Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 18:02
  • @Rowland : so that we Americans understand the problem, can you elaborate on what the problems are in the question you linked to?
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 2:29
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    @Joe Whilst we in Britain have what you call crock pots (we'd call them slow cookers, and I wouldn't necessarily make that connection) we have nothing like liquid smoke at all, and with such a brief answer it's hard to get any context or attempt to work out what is being referred to.
    – Edd
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 8:55
  • @Joe Edd summed it up perfectly there. Of course there are many other examples - I kinda get that broth == stock, but what's "summer squash"? I doubt it's lemon barley... Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 19:22
  • @Rowland: I don't think people expressing themselves using terms they have used their whole lives is "assuming" an American audience. It's quite unreasonable to expect someone to do the work of figuring out what other regions call certain things. Until now it never occurred to me that liquid smoke and crock pot are American terms. However, googling each of those explained exactly what they were in less than 5 seconds. If a Brit used a term I didn't recognize, I'd google it, and chances are it'd be in the top 5 hits.
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 8:43
  • Another example would be questions to do with bacon. In the US I understand bacon is cut from the belly, where as in the UK and Europe it tends to be from the back.
    – Edd
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 11:43

The general population seems to be north American, as best I can tell from the vocabulary commonly used (I understand most of it). This may initially be confusing to new members from other countries, but one of two things will happen:

1) Foreign visitors will come and be too confused by the terminology to effectively use the site, and use vernacular that the board as a whole doesn't understand, resulting in their questions dieing with low views and no answers. They will be forced to join the common language or not use the system.

2) Mutual education will happen, where the American users will google the terms posted when confusing and figure things out. Mods, familiar with numerous regional dialects, will re-tag with whatever they deem appropriate. The community chugs along and everyone learns something new.

I like 2. Something between these will probably happen. It'll be interesting to see what the hive mind comes up with.

Maybe the meta would be a place to create a taxonomy of international differences in food vocabulary. Or is that appropriate for the main board?

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    I actually fear that option (1) might happen. Regarding point (2) I thought the purpose of the StackExchange sites in general was to become the definitive resource for answering questions in a field, so I don't think relying on Bing.com or Google is a sustainable model. Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 19:38
  • So should we then attempt to create an international glossary of food and kitchen terms? Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 19:46
  • personally, I don't see why those sorts of questions couldn't be asked on the main site - after all, there are questions popping up like cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/2121/… Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 19:51
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    It's not really just a glossary problem (I'm Italian and I'm still using English). The problem is that in Italy I can't find American beef cuts, so a question about T-bone steaks is a problem.
    – Wizard79
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 14:09

In the first days of the beta I was quite excited. But now I realize that this site is not so useful to me. I would like to ask about food and recipes of my country, whit replies from people living in my country, because the insights of a national cuisine are well known mostly by people living there. Probably this will evolve to a mostly US-focused site, and this is really uncommon for a Stack Exchange site.

  • I'd like to encourage you to ask anyway - otherwise it only makes the site even more US-focused, which becomes a vicious circle Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 20:46
  • @Rowland: but a question like "should I use Piedmontese or Chianina breed of cattle for doing Bollito misto?" would be difficult (and useless) for US users, as these breeds are typically Italian and not even present in the US.
    – Wizard79
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 7:35
  • and similarly, a question about Porterhouse Steak would be difficult for (at least) English users (I seem to remember with all the BSE problems, there was a ban put on selling beef on the bone - it may even have been a Europe-wide ban). Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 8:06
  • how will this ever change if you don't ask these questions though? you should do it and see what happens, you may be surprised.
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 9:51
  • @Sam, it is what I'm trying and I'll try to do (we are in beta, after all) but I'm somehow hopeless...
    – Wizard79
    Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 18:45

Not much can be done I don't think. We could tag things with the different names, but I think we'll be using up a lot of tags for that. It's also unreasonable to expect a questioner to learn what everyone else in the world calls something.

For example, I had a question about pork rinds. I never knew that there were 3 different names for them. Apparently scratchings in the UK and crackle in Australia & NZ. Another big one is grilling. Well, what Americans calls grilling. Apparently everywhere else in the world a grill is called a barbecue, but barbecue to many Americans is a very specific way to cook meat.

Given the tools we currently have, I think the best way is for zealous editors to help out by adding other terms in footnotes.

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    I believe there is a limit of at most five tags per question, so let's hope nobody wants to barbeque courgette and aubergine... Commented Jul 18, 2010 at 20:11
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    Just to add further clarity from a UK perspective: I think what I'd call "grilling" is what americans would call "broiling", and which has nothing to do with the similar sounding "boiling". What Americans would call "grilling" I'd call "griddling" or "barbequeing". More info on other countries here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grilling#Regional_variations
    – Edd
    Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 10:02

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