So many bread products, so little explanation…

Ok, this is not exactly about accents and pronunciation, this is about the use of so many words to describe one item – bread.  It is just me or is there an abundance of bread products for quite specific purposes and many various names for each type?

I have a conversation at least once a month with a friendly-yet-pedantic-beyond-my-patience gentleman who shows up in some of the public places where I do outreach.  By the way, my outreach sometimes expands to healthy cooking (mostly to draw people in with free food samples) and occasionally I bake some muffins as part of this.  Anyways, this man and I have ridiculous conversations about the difference between a bun and a muffin.

He insists that muffins are what I would call an English muffin.  Whereas the item that I am baking is a bun meant for consumption with tea or as an afternoon snack.  Yet, other British people tell me that muffins are American breakfast items.  (and this sweet breakfast concept is shocking for many of these folks setting us off on the tangent of American obesity which is again not my sole responsibility)  When it comes to food I think I am pretty open minded and I am not bothered in the least about whether what I am eating is a bun or a muffin and whether it is the right time of day.  In fact, sometimes I have used an American recipe to make these so called buns.

The above is just an example of the confusing nature of naming bread products.  The British have a wonderful debate about what to call their baked goods – are they barms or bread cakes or bread rolls or what?  And crumpet vs muffin (the English kind) I don’t fully understand.  Some of this is explained by regional differences in language.  I think that is fascinating and I fully accept that this is part of the confusion for me.  But is it all regional?  I can go into a shop and have the option of crusty bread, farmhouse bread, thick sliced, thin sliced, bread made just for toasting, bread with a round top, bread with a square shape (I can’t even remember all the names of these types), rolls, loafs etc.  There are so many choices and each of these have a specific purpose.  British people find it amusing when I get the wrong bread as if I should automatically know what bread is the right one for every possible situation.

Is this a British thing or European thing?  And have you ever been told that Americans have ridiculous amounts of bread to choose from?  I have.  I accept that we have crazy sized shelves devoted to bread at supermarkets.  But I honestly think we have fewer choices and fewer rules about what kind of bread is appropriate for various uses.