Buttertarts, cheesies and poutine

by DaniGirl on November 11, 2005 · 13 comments

in Uncategorized

I am fascinated by the linguistic differences between Canadians and Americans. I mean, we share the same last land mass, are saturated by same media, surf the same Internet, read the same blogs, so it fascinates me that we have idiosyncratic differences in our common language.

All this is predicated on an article I read last weekend in the Ottawa Citizen. (I’d link to it, except of the entire Sunday edition, it seems to be one of the few articles that wasn’t online. Hmph. Oh well, credit where credit is due and carry on.) The article was an interview with Katherine Barber, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

What I really want to know is, what the heck do Americans call one of these?

We call it a butter tart. What other name could there possibly be? And what about “cheesies”? According to the article, that’s a Canadianism, too – but what the heck else would you call them?

There were other words that surprised me, too: bachelor apartment, for example. What do you call an apartment that is smaller than a one-bedroom? And collector lanes – those extra lanes beside the really big expressways where you can get on and off.

Speaking of collector lanes, think a kind thought for us today as I haul the boys across the province to bring everyone down to my brother’s place outside of Toronto for the weekend. It’s my adorable nephew’s first birthday party and my folks and the boys and I are heading down there, but Beloved has to work.

Tristan was so excited when I let it drop into conversation on Sunday that we’d be heading down to visit “Uncle Sean” that he ran into his room and started pulling jammies out of his drawers and choosing books to pack. So cute! It’s been a week of “How many more sleeps?” and now that we’re counting down in hours instead of days the boys are practically nuclear with excitement.

Deep breath….


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda November 11, 2005 at 4:46 pm

A small apartment with no bedrooms is a “studio apartment.” The extra lanes by expressways are “exit lanes.”
I have no idea what “cheesies” or “butter tarts” are… Didn’t recognize the picture at all! Maybe it’s a regional thing?

2 Sue November 11, 2005 at 7:03 pm

Perhaps I can help….A cheesie is a snack food – you buy them in the chips and tacos aisle. Some are puffed up, others are not — I like them both. They are coated with a yummy cheesie coating similar to what you might find on, say, nacho cheese doritos. They are exceptionally yummy.
Butter tarts — my grandmother made the best ones ever. They are a tart shell filled with a brown-sugar-butter filling similar to what you would find in pecan pie. My grandma used to put raisins in hers, and sometimes little tiny bits of red and green candied cherries (at Christmas time). YUM!
We have a local delicacy here called “Persians” — they are cinnamon buns with a surreal pink icing on top. You can only find them here. Odd isn’t it?
Hope that’s helpful… now I’m totally hungry.

3 Nancy November 11, 2005 at 10:19 pm

The butter tarts look kind of like those mini quiches you can buy (I guess you could make them too) — but it sounds like they are sweet.
Are cheesies the same as Cheetos? (like cheese puff snacks, some puffed with air and others more dense.)
What Amanda said — except I’ve also heard the terms “loft” or “garden apartment” for apartments that are all one room. And I use the terms “entry ramp” and “exit ramp” to refer to the roads for getting on and off the highways (expressways.)

4 Running2Ks November 12, 2005 at 1:06 am

I would say the same for the Americanisms, except I don’t know what those tarts are. They look like sort-of open pot pies.

5 nancy November 12, 2005 at 2:27 am

OMG people. Butter tart? How have you lived so long without?? Think little mini-pecan pies but without the pecans, and either nothing or raisins. Dee-Lish-Us!!!! If only I could make them as well as my Nana did I would offer to send in the mail, except I think the Free Trade agreement between Canada and USA prohibits the free trade of edible goods. Same reason we Canucks can no longer sell Smarties on ebay.

6 Marla November 12, 2005 at 2:36 am

mmmm butter tarts.
And you are coming THIS close to TO and you aren’t going to visit me too? I’d feed you butter tarts!

7 renee November 12, 2005 at 4:37 am

Efficiency apartments? That’s what I call them.

8 kris November 12, 2005 at 2:32 pm

Never seen a butter tart–they sound good, though. I’d call it a studio apt.–but I’ve heard efficiency apt., too. A garden apt. is one that is below the 1st floor and has windows at ground level–presumably with a garden planted just outside(?). And I’d call those cheese puff things Cheetos, regardless of the manufacturer.
Man, I love smarties-I love all of those wonderful candies you can only get in Canada (without paying a fortune at a specialty store). Every time I visit my in-laws in upstate NY, I try to fly in thru Montreal so I can get those fabulous sweets!

9 SilverCreek Mom November 14, 2005 at 2:01 pm

But if the collector lanes are called exit ramps what do you call them when you are getting on the big expressways?
Good to know I think.
And HOW can anyone live without butter tarts! I’ve had them with Raisins and pecans. And I love to heat them just abit int he microwave so they are just abit runny. Yummy! Actaully I can make them, they are not that hard.

10 Dani November 14, 2005 at 7:10 pm

Admittedly, I’ve never actually seen a butter tart. But, it does look tasty.
Even in the US, from region to region phrases and words are used differently For instance, I grew up in Maine where you use the word “wicked” in place of “so”. For example, “Wow, it is wicked hot out there…Man, I am wicked tired tonight.” Suffice to say this is never spoken in the Midwest. But, in Wisconsin, any kind of soda is referred to as pop and if you are thristy and see a water fountain, it’s called a bubbler.

11 Madeleine November 16, 2005 at 5:33 pm

I’m pretty sure butter tarts and poutine don’t exist south of the border. And the kind of “collectors” we have in Toronto are something I never saw in the US, though they might be there somewhere. They might be called “local” in contrast to the express lanes, though where I grew up in New England there was a Frontage Road beside the highway — and I just heard this phrase in a Springsteen song on CBC, so it extends at least as far as New Jersey. But that had stores right on it, which the collectors here don’t.
In welcoming me to Toronto, a fellow ex-pat foodie said “I must say I find the butter tarts overrated.” So I haven’t tried them. But maybe he just hadn’t been to the right bakery.

12 Jim December 3, 2005 at 9:56 pm

I wonder what the historical background is behind calling bedroomless apartments “bachelors”.
I am sure it goes back a century when it was common bachelors to be seeking housing but a rarity for single childless women in cities to be seeking housing.
I searched all over the Ontario Tenant Rights site but found nothing.

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