Arugula is the Italian word for the salad leaf known here in the UK as rocket. Arugula, rather than rocket, is also used in the USA to describe this “cruciferous annual plant”. I thought that this was standard general knowledge but maybe it’s not. A few weeks ago, some friends of the family arranged an online quiz night, via Zoom. It was all very enjoyable. I based one of my questions on rocket / arugula. None of the participants got it right, and they all know and care more about food than I do.
My question was, simply: By what name is the salad leaf “rocket” usually known in America? Maybe some of our friends would have got it right if I had put it the other way round: How is the salad leaf “arugula” usually known in the UK?
In the weeks since that online quiz, the question has come up in an episode of “The Tipping Point” (there, I thought it was general knowledge) and I have come across it in a “University Challenge” quiz book published in 2001. In the Second Round Questions (on page 74 of my paperback edition), Starter Question 91 asks: What other name is given to the edible cruciferous annual plant known by the Italian word “arugula”? Their answer is “Rocket / roquette”.
Arugula takes its place alongside other food stuffs that are known by different names in the USA and the UK, including zucchini (courgette), eggplant (aubergine) and rutabaga (swede). No doubt there are more examples, but as hinted above, and as anyone who knows me will be aware, I’m not much of a foodie.