Recently in Boston, I asked a bartender for a Bloody Caesar. Both the bartender and the American friend I was with asked, “What’s a Bloody Caesar?”
Somewhat stunned by the fact they’d never heard of such a common cocktail, I explained that a Bloody Caesar is a Bloody Mary made with Clamato juice instead of tomato juice.
“What’s Clamato juice?” they asked.
The whole thing could have been avoided if What’s Different in Canada, a new tumblr blog, had been around when I needed it. Launched May 24, it has tackled the Caesar issue, as well other such critical Canadian-American differences as the colour of cream soda, why we power our houses with “hydro,” our odd marijuana measurement system and the fact our high-school students use “Duo-Tangs” and “Bristol board” for homework projects.
The blog is written by Kevin Bracken, who says he was “born in New York, got my degree in Canada and spend a good deal of my free time travelling back and forth between the two.”
Adds Bracken, “This is for people who: are about to move to Canada from the United States, don’t want to seem like a tourist when visiting or who simply find what Freud called ‘the narcissism of minor differences’ a fascinating sociological phenomenon.”
His blog is mostly a lesson in such cultural oddities as Smarties and serviettes, but Bracken also pays attention to the way Canadians speak. He has noticed for instance, that where an American will ask, “Are you done at work yet?” a Canadian will drop the preposition and ask, “Are you done work yet?”
The Globe’s own Doug Saunders added to that observation on Monday, tweeting that a good Canadian would never say someone was “in the hospital” but would instead shorten it to “in hospital.” Not everyone agreed.
The best thing about Bracken’s blog is that it is as much a beginner’s guide to Americans for Canadians as it is a beginner’s guide to Canadians for Americans. I mean, really: They don’t call it KD down there?