Tasty translations

The fine art of cuisine has, as of late, become an unstoppable trend. If we add this craze to globalization, we end up with a considerable number of clients who are in need of translation services whether it be for their menus, wine lists, recipes, restaurant websites, and so on.

When a translator comes across this type of translation, they must always rely on their commonsense in order to make decisions about the best terminology. But just what is the best translation, for example, of batido in English? Shake, milkshake, smoothie, malt, frappe? And what about chorizo? In other words… the list of conflicting terms is endless. So the real question that we need to ask is: what criteria do we follow when we are translating a menu? It is very simple. The criterion is the client. You have to take into consideration exactly where the menu is going to be presented: in a restaurant in the United States, or in Australia, the United Kingdom or South Africa? All of this will go a long way to helping you when it comes to crunch time.

What’s more, the translator must also use their creativity. Should the names of dishes and recipes be kept in Spanish? Or should they be translated into English? For example, should Gazpacho be left as Gazpacho or translated to cold soup or Spanish soup? Or should a description be included after the dish name? There are parts of the English-speaking world that may not know what Gazpacho is.

Another issue that you should keep in mind is measurements and their equivalences. How many milliliters of water equal 3 liquid ounces in a recipe? How many ounces are in 10 grams?

Here is a list of just a few of the terms that often cause headaches for translators.

  • Melón: rockmelon, cantaloupe
  • Pimiento: capsicum, chilli pepper, sweet pepper
  • Galleta: cracker, cookie, biscuit
  • Caramelo: caramel, toffee, lolly, sweets, candy
  • Tortilla española: Spanish tortilla, Spanish omelette, potato omelette
  • Flan: crème caramel, flan, caramel custard
  • Magdalena: muffin, cupcake
  • Salchicha: sausage, wiener, hot dog, snag
  • Empanada: empanada, pastie, stuffed pastry