Hi everyone!

I am a little frustrated and disappointed writing this blog today. After an English lesson I taught to a group of Italian school children, I found out that they think our much-loved cheddar cheese is the feeble*, orange cheese slice found on McDonald’s burgers in Italy. How embarrassing!

This made me think about how sometimes, the true meaning of something can get lost when it moves from one country to another. Just like our cheddar cheese in Italy!

The sharing of cultures is a wonderful thing – who doesn’t love trying food from another culture?! It means we get to learn about and experience different parts of the world and sometimes, it means we get to learn about places that we would never otherwise encounter.*

But, when an iconic* British food such as cheddar cheese is not correctly understood in another culture, and it becomes a slice of bright orange, plastic, McDonalds cheese(!!), what does it tell us about what happens during this process of exchange and sharing?

Let’s look at what happens when we bring things from one culture into another.

Take pizza as an example. In the UK we generally know that a Domino’s pizza is not exactly like a standard Italian pizza.

Although we appreciate what it is, we know that if we want to try an authentic* Italian pizza, we should probably go to an Italian family-run restaurant, or Italy itself. But if we saw an authentic, Italian pizza, we’d still recognise it as a pizza, right?

So Italian Pizza, and Dominos pizza, aren’t the same thing… but they’re both pizza. What a wild concept!

But, when we were talking about cheddar, my students actually protested* when I told them that the image in front of them was cheddar cheese. They told me that it couldn’t be cheddar because it wasn’t orange.

It’s clear to me that what they think of as cheddar in Italy is so far from what British people think of as cheddar, that it doesn’t really give an insight* into British food culture.

We’re seeing two different things!! Yes, we use the same name same, but are we really sharing a part of our culture, if what we see, and what they see, is a totally different thing!?

I decided that actually, the meaning of the word ‘Cheddar’ itself has been completely lost when it moves to Italy.

Although they may know the name of the cheese, very few people thataren’t from the UK know that Cheddar is the name of the place that the cheese comes from!

And, if this orange cheese by the name of Cheddar has no connection to where it originally comes from, how can we call it Cheddar cheese at all?

Cheddar Gorge in England, where Cheddar cheese originally comes from

Can you think of any other examples of exported* foods that have completely lost their meaning when they’ve crossed into another country?

Or maybe you think that the sharing of cultures is more important than something getting lost in translation?* Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Until next time, baci!

* feeble – limp, pathetic

* encounter – come across or meet

*iconic – something that is famous

*authentic – original/real

*insight – deep understanding of

*exported – send to another country to sell

*getting lost in translation – when something doesn’t make sense when it is moved to a different culture or language