Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Size is Everything!

You cannot say America has completely ignored the metric age. It does have decimal coinage! Equally you cannot say that Britain completely embraced all things metric. Typically we took some of it that we liked or were bullied by the EU into accepting and ignored the rest. I like to think of myself as bi-lingual. I know what I weigh in stones and Kilograms. I know how tall I am in meters and feet. The only shared measurement I have as a stranger in this strange land is miles. They are the same! (3781 miles from home!) Funny! I do centimetres and metres but not kilometres! I don’t like the idea of kilometres. There would be more of them and that would make me feel further from home!
The other night my son seemed unusually quiet. I found him on his bed, arms behind his head, legs crossed, fast asleep. A cuter version of his father without the warthog snoring! It is very unusual for him to sleep in the day ‘from son up, to son down’. He felt hot. I got the ear temperature thingy. At least I think that is where you are supposed to stick it. 39.2ºC. We had friends round. She is a nurse and didn’t look in the slightest bit concerned. When I converted it to Fahrenheit (102°F) it had more of an impact.
Fahrenheit is the official temperature scale of the US and Belize. You might forgive Belize for not catching on but the US? Hey! America – the rest of the world use Celsius! Get with it already! Fahrenheit is so complicated compared to Celsius which gives you obvious markers: 0ºC is freezing and 100ºC is boiling. Easy! On the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing point of  water is 32 °F and the  boiling point 212 °F. It gets very complicated when talking about the weather. I phone home and tell them it is 84°C and they ask ‘What is that in real money?’ It’s hot for March! The Fahrenheit and Celsius scales converge at −40 °F (i.e. −40 °F and −40 °C represent the same temperature). I wonder where on any scale Brits and Americans converge? 
Cooking is hampered by the silly use of Fahrenheit too! It is all about scales. I can do ‘gas mark’ because the scale is small. Gas mark 1 – just keeping stuff warm. Gas mark 9 – burned to a frazzle! Simple – cook most things on gas mark 5! It took me a while to get used to an electric oven and using Celsius. I don’t know instinctively what temperature to cook things on but 190ºC is easy to use as the gas mark 5 marker. Now I have to cook with an oven that only has Fahrenheit! This is after I have made things with USA recipes that uses CUPS as a measurement! Hey – weighing scales have been invented! No wonder my cup cakes are shite! What sort of measurement is ½ a cup (equivalent of a B cup?!) Americans have had the audacity to laugh at the weight measurement of a ‘stone’ and they use CUPS!!! A stone is 14 pounds. What is a CUP?!
They use gallons but their gallons are a different size to the UK. A UK gallon is 4.5 litres, a US gallon is 3.81litres. Maybe that is so they can brag how little their big cars do to the gallon. They use a scale of dress sizes that is different to the UK  too– 2 sizes smaller (UK 10 is a US 8). That makes them sound smaller than British counterparts!  Their shoe sizes are bigger though (a UK size 6 translates to size 8 ½! Boats!) Maybe there is no correlation between US measurements and the rest of the world. I guess they are pretty unique! Maybe their pounds are bigger to make them weigh ‘less’. Maybe their miles are smaller so America sounds bigger! Maybe I am further from home than I think!


  1. As you say a lot of recipes have cups in them so i brought myself a set of cup measures and 1cup= 6oz or roughly 8fluid ounces. Mommy does know some things!!!.No matter how you measure miles you are still to many of them away from us

  2. Ahhhh! not so! A cup of brown suagr does not 'weigh' the same as a cup of caster sugar. Different density! A cup measures volume not weight! :)

  3. I have to say - this was after an hilarious phone conversation where we were both measuring American cups of different things and then weighing them!!! No cup weighed the same!

  4. far be it for me to comment but if you are spending whole conversations discussing the volume/density of cooking ingredients then you really do need to get out more! Or was it other cups you were weighing as in the B cup referred to in the blog? In which case carry on!

  5. Too true! I need some gainful employment!
    I'm afraid it could never be said of me 'you dont get many of them to the pound!'