Twitter has flared up recently over the oft-argued question of whether a flat circular disc of battered and deep-fried potato should be called a potato scallop, potato cake or potato fritter in Australia. The correct answer? It depends on where you live.
Potato scallop picture: AWW/Trove
The Macquarie Dictionary notes that scallop is the usual term in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, while cake is used in Victoria and Tasmania. South Australia goes with fritter. (In the Northern Territory, we assume everyone eats battered croc slices instead.)
If you’re ordering in a fast-food store, the obvious strategy is to use the appropriate local term. In writing, it’s trickier: unless you’re a scribe for a Tasmanian newspaper, it might be hard to preference one over the other.
The core rule, as ever, is to make a decision about which one you’ll use and stick with it. If you’re writing extensively about potato scallops/cakes/fritters, then mentioning the alternatives the first time can be a good approach:
I love a potato scallop (also known as a potato cake or potato fritter, depending on where you live). My waistline is not so convinced this is a good idea.
This kind of regional variation in food terms is very common in Australia. Check out the highly impressive list of alternative names for what’s most often referred to as devon, which makes the scallop debate look like (ahem) small potatoes:
|devon||Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria & Tasmania|
|baron sausage||North Coast NSW|
|Belgium sausage||Tasmania & Queensland|
|bung fritz||South Australia|
|Byron sausage||North Coast NSW|
|Empire sausage||Newcastle region|
|luncheon sausage||Eastern states|
|pork fritz||Western Australia|
|round meat||Eastern mainland|
|wheel meat||Eastern states|
|Windsor sausage||Queensland & North Coast NSW|
So name your sausage wisely. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.