Superfluous U’s and Different Names

I’m Canadian.  I’m telling you this because the target market for kosher cookbooks would be the USA, not Canada.

When I wrote the first draft of my first book, I didn’t give a lot of thought to my spelling.  If it was spelled correctly, that’s what mattered.  I also used names for produce that I have always used.  It didn’t even occur to me that this would be an issue.  So when the US rights to my book were bought by an American publisher, it surprised me when I got a request to do a major edit of the whole book before it went to press.

See, there were a number of things that were fine for my Canadian editor, but for the American public, they had to be changed. At first I questioned the request.  I thought then, and continue to think, that Americans wouldn’t have a problem with an extra u in flavour or colour.  But then I realized that if that little issue would make it a ‘better’ book for my target market, it wasn’t too much to ask for.   Just time on my part.

With the spelling changed and dozens of u’s deleted, we moved on to food names.  The first one to go was “English cucumber”. Nope, it had to be “long seedless cucumber”.  “Roma tomato” needed to be “plum tomato”. Etc.  Now I find myself asking questions like “do more people say green onions or scallions?”.  A little poll I took today was no help.  The respondents were almost split in half.

So what do you do when you’re writing a book? Do you do what is natural for you and correct or do you tailor the book for another country (which is also correct — but different)? And how do you decide what to do when there’s no clear answer?

Next question to ponder: Metric or Imperial? Probably both.



  1. I would write it the way you want to. Remember Harry Potter? They “dumbed down” the first book and Americans were furious and insulted. They didn’t do it with the others.

    BTW, I missed your Twitter poll, but I say scallions. And yes, definitely do both Metric and Imperial as all your Canadian fans will be buying the book, too ;-).

  2. I never care about the differences in spelling and names for items, but I DO have to admit to you that I rarely use the recipes from books that aren’t written with Imperial measurements included. I never got the hang of converting in my head!

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