Are there any local phrases where you live? You may not even be aware of them! That’s the thing with regional terminology. Last month I shared with you my first post about the words of Northern Ireland: How Till Spake Norn Iron Like The Locals. As promised, this month I’m sharing with you some unique Northern Ireland food slang, and you’ll see just how confusing it can be for a visitor.
1) Jammie does not mean covered in jam (although you can buy Jammie Dodger biscuits). Jammie means lucky. “Niall is one jammie lad, he just won the lotto!”
2) Biscuits are not for the dogs! Biscuits are cookies, “Would you like a chocolate biscuit with your tae?”
3) Tae, then, means tea. “Do you take sugar in your tae?”
4) Which brings us to tea time. This is not an afternoon cup of tea, but rather means dinner. It’s your main evening meal around 5:00-6:00 pm. “Why are the streets so quiet?” “Why, everyone’s gone home for thar tae”
5) Supper is not the main evening meal. You’ll be in for a big surprise if you go to an evening meeting that advertises that supper is included. You’ll arrive hungry, only to find that supper is a cup of tae and a biscuit!
6) Bun. I grew up thinking a bun was like a miniature loaf of bread; a dinner roll. Over here a bun is a sweet treat like a cupcake, brownie, fifteen, etc. “Would you like a bun to go with yer afternoon tae?”
7) Bap. A bap is a bread roll. One of the most famous would be the Belfast Bap. So I have to remember when I visit the bakery to ask for a cheese bap, or a floured bap, rather than a bun, or I’ll end up with something sweet rather than savoury.
8) Poke. When the poke truck plays its music kids know a Poke is nearby. A Poke is a small soft-serve vanilla ice cream in a cone. (add a snack-size Flake chocolate bar to it and it’s a 99). Note, however, that the original term of poke means bag, so refers to the cone itself, but has come to mean the whole thing over time. (And don’t go looking this term up – it means some non-child-friendly things in other contexts; but here in Norn Iron a poke is an ice cream cone)
9) Chippies are not potato chips, but rather French fries. Would you like some chippies with your burger?
You can also say, “I’m going to the Chippies, would you like anything?” In this case, you’re talking about going to a fish and chip shop for a meal.
10) Which brings me nicely to crisps. Crisps are potato chips. “I’m going to the shop, wud ye like sumthen?” “Bring me back a packet of Tayto Wuster Sauce crisps will ye.”
As I sit typing this up, I realise how many unique food words there are in Northern Ireland. You’ll certainly see another post in the future as a second part of this series. However, I may switch gears and share some Northern Ireland vocabulary you’ll hear if you have babies and young children next time.
If you’re interested in making some Northern Ireland food at home, I have these recipes for you: