There are no dumb questions but I'm trying - prawns?

GaryE

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Okay, pathetic question here, but I'm a North American English speaker and I have decided to question something brought up by European members. Prawns are just shrimp people eat, right? I've always assumed it was one of those minor vocabulary differences within regional versions of English, but I'm checking.
 
The names are used interchangeably in most parts of the world, but although Prawns and Shrimp are classified in the same Order, they’re in different Suborders.
Prawns have straight bodies while shrimp have either curved bodies or a bend in the middle, among other differences.

True prawns are not a good fish food as they contain thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1) which can lead to deficiency. Shrimp do not contain thiaminase.

I refer to ‘prawns’ meaning the little ones we use (in the UK) for prawn sandwiches and prawn cocktails. These are a safe fish food since they’re actually a species of shrimp.
 
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Thanks.

I've seen it used for years, but I am not a seafood fan myself (I just live in sight of the ocean) and I've never looked at the labelling. Plus where I lived until recently, I bought shrimp/prawns for fishfood in French anyway.

I'd say it's one of those cross ocean vocabulary things then, as I thought.

Since the word comes up a lot of threads, I didn't want to miss something and derail conversations.
 
What do you call the little ‘cold water prawns’ caught in the North Atlantic in the US? Do you have them in sandwiches and ‘prawn cocktails’?

I’m pleased there are no dumb questions. ;)
 
I would guess they are "dessert shrimp", although a forum cook might correct me. I used to chop and feed a lot of northern coldwater dessert shrimp.

Shrimp cocktails are a thing (but maybe from British novels - I'm not a seafood seeker), but I have never encountered shrimp sandwiches. Then again, I move in very classy circles when it comes to food - working classy. Someone who is a real foodie could chime in here... my seafood tends to extend as far as battered haddock.

I'm 20 minutes' drive from a string of little harbours full of lobster boats, but I grew up way inland far from the sea.
 
I’m not a fan of seafood either, with the exception of good old British “fish ‘n’ chips”, which uses battered cod or haddock. Actually I like most fish that I’ve tried…
 
I’ve always assumed prawns were closer to crawdads but I could be totally wrong
 
Prawns and shrimp are totally different animals. Here is an article that explains a bit.

As to shrimp sandwiches, and/or tacos, they are very popular in the U.S. especially in the South where they are often referred to as po' boys. Po' boys would be the sandwich, A shrimp taco is just shrimp taco.
 
I've never seen a crawdad for sale as food. I'm sure they have a specialty restaurant market, but I haven't seen it.
I know older family around here who wouldn't eat lobster because it was seen as food for the poorest of the poor, not eaten by people trying to look respectable.
Things change.
But while prawns and shrimp are different, I'm thinking hobby-wise in British usage, they aren't, right? Like, if I agree you should feed "prawns" to your Cichlid I'm not accidentally suggesting some person drag home an 18 foot giant squid on the bus....
 
I've never seen a crawdad for sale as food. I'm sure they have a specialty restaurant market, but I haven't seen it.
I know older family around here who wouldn't eat lobster because it was seen as food for the poorest of the poor, not eaten by people trying to look respectable.
Things change.
But while prawns and shrimp are different, I'm thinking hobby-wise in British usage, they aren't, right? Like, if I agree you should feed "prawns" to your Cichlid I'm not accidentally suggesting some person drag home an 18 foot giant squid on the bus....
I have to admit to being amazed in crawdads not being known as food. If not more so crawdad boils are as popular in the southern U.S. as clam bakes in the northern U.S.. Common additions are corn on the cob and potatoes but just about anything can be added. Please say you know what a clam bake is... ;)

When I was a teen I spent summers in the backwoods of central and northern Ontario. One of my favorite food memories is how good of a milk based chowder can be made with northern pike. :)

As to prawns as fish food it sort of depends on if vitamin B2 (I think) is important. While shrimp do not prawns contain a chemical that inhibits the formation of vitamin B2. As fish food I'd probably lean toward shrimp.
 
In British usage the little shrimp we have in prawn sandwiches and cocktails (I assume the same that you use for shrimp cocktails) are called prawns. They’re pink when shelled and cooked. But even smaller, brownish ones are called shrimp. The much bigger prawns - like King and Tiger, are called prawns.
A lot of people seem to feed these larger, true prawns, to their fish, but I’ve never come across a case of vitamin B deficiency, that I know of. Maybe because they’re just a part of a more varied diet.
 
In British usage the little shrimp we have in prawn sandwiches and cocktails (I assume the same that you use for shrimp cocktails) are called prawns. They’re pink when shelled and cooked. But even smaller, brownish ones are called shrimp. The much bigger prawns - like King and Tiger, are called prawns.
A lot of people seem to feed these larger, true prawns, to their fish, but I’ve never come across a case of vitamin B deficiency, that I know of. Maybe because they’re just a part of a more varied diet.
Of course what you describe as a prawn sandwich may be the same as what we would call shrimp. With different countries there is often a difference in what words basically mean even if both countries are 'English speaking'.

Another difference between shrimp and prawns is that , while both can be found in fresh or salt water, shrimp are predominately salt water and prawns are predominately fresh water. When looking in a grocery store you can usually tell the difference in whether they are curved or straight. The 'plates' of their exoskeleton differ in how they overlap. In a prawn the overlap of these plates prevent the 'curl' normally associated with shrimp. As to human consumption prawns usually are a bit sweeter than shrimp. This is associated with their normal diet andis likely to be more pronounced in wild caught over farm bred.

As to the vitamin B2 thing I really don't know to what extent this happens. And dang... I can't seem to find the article that brought this up again. One of those cases where, as I often do, went on a tangent in my search. Still, as fish food, I think I'd still go with shrimp over prawns regardless as I think frozen shrimp is less expensive. Again, look for the body curl to tell the difference.
 
Clam bakes? Nope. I've heard of them in the US. I did a quick search and found some local tourist places that offer them, I would guess for travelers from the south. Lobster rolls galore (even in the past at MacDo's), and a lot of dishes with clams and scallops. I'm 3 km from a clam digging bay.

I've sat around while people from the north cut and ate fish with ulus, and eaten a lot of fish cakes. I haven't had pike chowder. That would have to be away from the populated areas as apex predators collect a lot of pollutants, and aren't favoured as food where I've lived.

There are a lot of vocabulary and some grammar differences between the various forms of English. A lot go with food. There are some food differences too. When I first watched the British Baking Show, I had to learn some vocab. I sometimes have to listen closely to relatives out on the west side of Canada. I love language differences and look for them, but I recently saw a guide to Canadian English for US visitors, produced in the west, and quite a few phrases meant nothing to me. My English has a lot of French words in it, and I always have to filter them out carefully when I travel.

I don't think the actual prawn/shrimp difference matters as here we have a question of usage. I'm going to roll with the idea that for an average British aquarist, a shrimp is a prawn is a shrimp.
 
If you think English is bad...
I grew up in South Africa as an English speaker. I had a several very good friends from Mauritius (French speaking not Creole). I also had some Canadian friends. Well they actually struggled to understand each other, so much so they always spoke English. At the time the Mauritians struggled with English and we were way too young for them to be refusing to speak to someone who didn't speak "properly".
Yet I recently visited Paris with one of these Mauritian friends and he had no problems there, and of course we met loads of Canadians who also had no problems - but they still struggled to understand each other.
Ironically I now live in the UK but work for a Belgian company. We speak English at work but I also have to consciously filter out the French words that have crept into my English vocab.
 

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