Building your business with cross-culture business training. Over 3,500 professionals from India and the U.S. have worked with us since 2011.

May 2, 2015

What do Americans Say if Food is Too Spicy?

"Firehouse Pie" - You'll want to call the WPFD after tasting this spicy smorgasboard. 

This was a menu item and description we read in the Sparky's restuarant menu in Whitney Point, New York recently. 

So, it took me a moment to remember the meaning behind this sentence at first as I haven't used it for a long time as I have been living in India. Though I had heard this phrase many times growing up whenever eating spicy food, I felt a bit betrayed by my own language as it took me a few minutes to remember!! 

I think the other reason I got confused was because of the acronym - WPFD as I did not know what that stood for! Then, I remembered the phrase, "If you eat this, you'll have to call the fire department!" (Spicy food puts our mouth on fire, so the only way to put the fire out is to call the fire department.) So, then I took that acronym and thought FD means fire department and whatever preceeds FD is the letter or letters standing for the name of the town, in this case Whitney Point was the name of the town we were in. SO, WPFD means Whitney Point Fire Department. (If you were in Los Angeles, then the acronym would be LAFD.)  

What does it mean when people eating say, "We will have to call the fire department to put out the fire."? 
So, if you are out with your US colleagues and they eat spicy chicken wings or anything spicy, they may say, 'I'll have to call the fire department to put out the fire." (Keep in mind what Americans think is spicy is not the same as what Indians think as spicy, in most cases.)  

How common is this phrase? 
Actually, I am not sure how common this phrase is across the US, or in cities. I am used to hearing this phrase in small towns in New York State. 

What other phrases or idioms can people say when they eat spicy food? 
I am not sure. Maybe readers of this post can leave ideas in the comments below. 

What are other phrases people may use in American Restaurants? 
While it's hard to share every single word or phrase due to regional cultures and culture and language change, check out this post for some more ideas.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post is an American citizen living as an expat in Kochi, India. helping Indians gain experience and confidence in interacting conversationally with Americans. 

Related Posts: 
Meal time etiquette in US Restaurant 
Business Dining Etiquette  
Who Pays for Lunch if We Go Out To Eat? 
What time do Americans eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? 

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.