America is certainly iconic, and a worldwide brand of sorts, but it doesn’t carry the same connotations everywhere. Here are 13 things described with “American” in other countries.
1. CINTA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN TAPE"
In Spain, the versatile, do-anything tool we call duct tape is known as cinta americana, or “American tape.”
2. POING AMÉRICAIN // "AMERICAN FIST"
In French, a set of brass knuckles are le poing américain, or “the American fist.”
3. ALFACE AMERICANA // "AMERICAN LETTUCE"
Brazilian Portuguese has the term alface americana, or “American lettuce,” to refer to iceberg lettuce—or, as my cousin Jairo informs me, “lettuce like McDonald’s uses.”
4. AMERIKANSKIE GORKI // "AMERICAN MOUNTAINS"
In Russian, roller coasters are known as amerikanskie gorki, or “American mountains.” Interestingly, in most of the Romance languages they are known as “Russian mountains.”
5. AMERIŠKA SOLATA // "AMERICAN SALAD"
The Slovenians call cole slaw ameriška solata, or “American salad,” as do other countries in Eastern Europe.
6. KHAO PAD AMERICAN // "AMERICAN FRIED RICE"
The khao pad American served in Thailand is rarely found in American Thai restaurants. The rice is fried with ketchup or tomato sauce, and might be mixed with raisins and peas. It is served with some combination of fried chicken, bacon, hot dogs, ham, and croutons. Apparently, it was created during the Vietnam War when many Americans were stationed in Thailand, and the dish went on to become Thai comfort food.
7. AMERIKAANSE STOCK // "AMERICAN STOCK"
In Belgium, stores that carry camping and hunting equipment, tools, boots, military surplus, and sporting goods often go by Amerikaanse Stock, or “American stock.”
8. WOLNA AMERYKANKA // "FREE AMERICAN"
Wolna amerykanka, or “free American,” is a style of catch-as-catch-can, no-restrictions wrestling in Poland. The phrase also has the more general sense of “all bets are off” or anything goes.
9. AMERIKAANSE FUIF // "AMERICAN PARTY"
In Dutch, a casual potluck where everyone brings a dish is called an amerikaanse fuif, or "American party." Brazil also uses festa americana to describe this type of event.
10. COCINA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN KITCHEN"
In Spain, the open plan style of kitchen is called an “American kitchen,” as opposed to the traditional style of kitchen closed off by a wall.
11. AMERIKANDOGGU // "AMERICAN DOG"
In Japanese, a hot dog is a hottodoggu, but a corn dog is an amerikandoggu.
12. TOVAGLIETTE ALL’AMERICANA // "AMERICAN PLACEMATS"
In Italian, a tovaglia is a table cloth. A tovaglietta all’americana, literally "little American tablecloth," is a placemat. In Brazil, placemats are also considered American; sets of them are called jogo americano, or “American set.”
13. AMERIKAANSE TOESTANDEN // "AMERICAN CONDITIONS"
The Dutch have an easy phrase to pull out when talking about huge gaps between rich and poor, lack of healthcare or education access, school shootings, or a range of other situations, including, probably, cans of beer labeled “America.” Amerikaanse toestanden, or “American conditions,” are something to be warned against, as in, “let’s be careful with this decision and not get ourselves a bad case of American conditions.”