Off topic: Garçon! There's a silly French word in my soup
Thread poster: Els Thant, M.A., B.Tr.
Els Thant, M.A., B.Tr.
Ecuador
Local time: 19:28
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Oct 3, 2005

I thought this article might be interesting for those of you who translate menus, but also for gourmet translators...:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

Garçon! There's a silly French word in my soup

Martin Bentham
Sunday October 2, 2005
The Observer

Fed up with restaurant menus that talk about carpaccios, daubes and tagines? Well, at last, a backlash has begun against the proliferation of foreign words littering the menus of modern British restaurants.

The latest edition of the Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, the bible of the food industry, tears into the trend for using 'absurd' and 'fraudulent' words from French, Italian and other languages to describe what are often straightforward dishes that could be described simply in English.

Among the terms singled out for ridicule are 'millefeuille of aubergine' - which bears no resemblance to a puff pastry cake filled with jam and cream - and a 'capuccino of white beans' that has nothing to do with coffee. Scorn is also directed at a 'gateau of grilled vegetables', hardly suitable for those with a sweet tooth, and a 'bouillabaisse of sardines', which appears to have little connection with the Provençale soup or stew the name suggests.

The article is by former chef and restaurant critic Bill Knott, who says that such terms are a nonsense.

'The game of gastronomic Chinese whispers, in which a modish, foreign-sounding dish goes through so many incarnations that it has become completely meaningless, is all the rage,' he writes. 'Toast becomes bruschetta or crostini, a toasted sandwich is now a panini, a sauce is a jus or a coulis, and a stew is a daube or a tagine.'

He says that not only are the terms incomprehensible, they are also wrong. 'Many are thoroughly inaccurate and deeply misleading. Dishes I have seen on smart menus range from the faintly absurd to the distinctly fraudulent. Many chefs seem to think that food sounds better if it's not written in English.'

Michel Roux Jr, chef at London's Le Gavroche restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, said that he was also fed up with ludicrous descriptions.

'A carpaccio of courgette, what the hell is that? A carpaccio is of beef, not courgette. Similarly, you have a navarin of lobster, when it should be a navarin of lamb. It's totally inaccurate, and what annoys me even more is that nine times out of 10 the words are mis-spelt.

'I can understand and forgive a little bit of it when it's used in a clever way, by people who understand the terms, but if the words are just used as embellishment to dress up a rather sad menu, forget it.'

Marcus Wareing, chef at Petrus restaurant in London, said foreign words could be justified, but only if they were accurate and the quality of the food matched the description.

'I don't think there's anything wrong with using millefeuille or capuccino - it's quite nice - but it depends on what is actually being cooked. There is an element in cooking and restaurants that writes better than it delivers. It is very easy to put words on paper, but not so easy to put something exceptional on a plate.'

Knott said he had been prompted to speak out by the increasingly baffling menus with which he was confronted. Some, he suspected, used elaborate language in an attempt to justify higher prices.

'Some restaurants think that if you call something a daube you can charge £12, whereas if you said it was a stew you could probably only charge £8. At least with Italian and French menus you are supplied with a translation, but with modern British food many people just don't know what they are getting.

To help bemused diners, here are a few French translations which may (or may not) be helpful:

Hachis parmentier Shepherd's pie

Pot au feu d'agneau aux pommes de terre et aux oignons Lancashire hotpot

Saucisses en pote au four Toad in the hole

Boudin noir Black pudding

Feuilleté de boeuf et de foie Steak and kidney pie

Boule aux épices et aux fruits secs Spotted dick

[Edited at 2005-10-03 22:39]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Link Oct 3, 2005

observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

Whenever there are commas in a link, you have to use HTML code to capture the entire link.



[quote]Els Thant wrote:

I thought this article might be interesting for those of you who translate menus, but also for gourmet translators...:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

[Edited at 2005-10-03 22:35]

Sorry, apparently there is a problem with the link. Let me see if I can solve it

[Edited at 2005-10-03 22:42]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
RHELLER
United States
Local time: 18:28
French to English
+ ...
need a degree in menu terminology? Oct 3, 2005

Thanks Els,
I enjoyed that article.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Els Thant, M.A., B.Tr.
Ecuador
Local time: 19:28
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Jeff! Oct 3, 2005

[quote]Jeff Whittaker wrote:

observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

Whenever there are commas in a link, you have to use HTML code to capture the entire link.

Thanks, Jeff, I did not know that...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Better in French Oct 4, 2005

Some of those would be best left in French. If ever saw them on a menu in English, especially these two, I'd get sick right there:

Saucisses en pote au four Toad in the hole

Boule aux 鰩ces et aux fruits secs Spotted dick


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Buzzy
Local time: 02:28
French to English
Henry, you're right Oct 4, 2005

But even when the names of dishes aren't particularly strange, it's true that language plays a part, and not just in the perceived value.
Ever since I spent a year in Brittany as a student many moons ago, I have pondered the mystery: why is a "galette oeuf-jambon-fromage' (or galette complète) so nice, when I don't think I would ever order a "ham, cheese and egg savoury pancake"? Even now, 20 years later and living in the land of the galette, the English version doesn't sound like the same thing at all to me!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fiona Gonçalves  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:28
Member
Portuguese to English
+ ...
translated menus Oct 4, 2005

I'm sure some of you must also have come across some desperately poor translations of menus too. Here in Portugal, a favourite dish is "Cozido à Portuguesa", which is a mixture of different meats and vegetables boiled together. The funniest translation I have seen of this so far is "Boiled Portuguese". Ouch! Painful, wouldn't you say?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 20:28
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Wrong offal Oct 4, 2005

Els Thant wrote:
Feuilleté de boeuf et de foie Steak and kidney pie


foie = liver; kidney - rognons.

that's why so many dislike foreign words in menus, they can definitely be misleading!

Nancy


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Carolyn Brice  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 11:28
French to English
+ ...
British food vs French food Oct 5, 2005

I agree that often they are just trying to make things sound posh and therefore charge more, but I also think British cooking and French/Italian/etc just aren't comparable.

It's a question of taste and what you're used to, but things like pork pies, cornish pasties, spotted dick, boiled this and boiled that just don't make my mouth water like French dishes do (I say French, because that's what I know).

As I said, it's a question of what you're used to and grew up with. I was brought up on French food generally, as well as dishes from many other countries. The point was not to turn your nose up before you tried it. But having been brought up in England, I do have first hand knowledge of British food. The best restaurants in Britain are foreign!

[Edited at 2005-10-06 09:45]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Paul VALET  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:28
English to French
+ ...
Let me have a dream, please! Oct 10, 2005

Els Thant wrote:

I thought this article might be interesting for those of you who translate menus, but also for gourmet translators...:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1583065,00.html

Garçon! There's a silly French word in my soup

Martin Bentham
Sunday October 2, 2005
The Observer

]


When I walk in London, I can imagine people speak French there, because there are lots of French words written in block letters on the windows of the restaurants.

It makes me think we, French, are not completly bad at exporting, and that if an only French word will survive in the English speaking flooding, it will be "baguette", or something like that.

Regards,

Paul


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:28
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Latvian joke Oct 10, 2005

Gentlemen comes into Latvian restaurant, reads the menu and indignantly calls the garcon: “And what is this???”- pointing at the menu entry “boiled skunk’s rectal parts with yesterday’s sauce”.

The garcon takes the menu, studies it for some time, then shouts across the hall to the head-cook: “Anton, Anton, they again have forgotten to translate our menu into French before printing…”

Bon appetit,

Uldis

[Edited at 2005-10-10 22:12]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
British food makes me really homesick! Nov 7, 2005

Among my truly favourite dishes were:

Toad in the hole with peas and apple sauce - one of my mother's specialities, but you need an old-fashioned Aga cooker to get the batter quite right.

Haggis - our Northumbrian village butcher made some of the best on the border, and knew just the right way to mix barley and thyme (and the other more or less secret ingredients...)

Liver and bacon with tomato, onions and thyme - we still love that!

Cock a leekie
(now that's quite lyrical, and you won't be disappointed by the flavour)

'Thames barges' - hunks of shortbread with masses of chocolate-flavoured custard for pudding

Apple pie, apple crumble, baked apples... anything with apples

....

All my Danish family drool over the Christmas cake - and it's actually less fattening than all their biscuits, with lots more fruit and less fat...

It's supper time.
We're having what the Danes call 'ryd op i køleskabet' (Clear out the fridge) - after a good weekend.

Velbekomme - Bon appetit!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:28
Member
French to English
+ ...
Sticking up for English cooking! Nov 11, 2005

Just because it doesn't have a lyrical name, doesn't mean it's less good!

Some of the best meals I've had have been here in France -- and also some of the worst!

But some of the good old traditional English dishes are at least as good as French peasant cooking equivalents; what we lack, if anything, is the notion of 'haute cuisine' --- where it exists, it inevitably seems to veer towards the French.

What is sad is not that "the best restaurants in England are foreign", but that we don't have enough pride in our national cuisine (or a too snobbish!) to celebrate it in the same way --- not 'exotic' enough, perhaps.

As an aside, our local hotel here in its brochure vaunting its (rather sad) restaurant, said that "Jean XXX cooks up some delicious dishes in the kitchen, while his wife Marie describes them beautifully in the dining room"



Actually, I have to say that neither the descriptions, nor his wife, were particularly 'beautiful' --- especially when she was desperately trying to describe tripe to us, seeking to put us off ordering something we didn't know what it was.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
PB Trans

Local time: 01:28
French to English
+ ...
Brilliant article! Feb 1, 2006

So true! I always have such a hard time translating French gourmet menus into English. I usually have to ask the chef to describe the dish!

In Quebec, we call Shepherd's Pie "pâté chinois". I have NO idea why we think it's Chinese!! I looked it up and found this: http://experts.about.com/e/p/p/Pt_chinois.htm


Direct link Reply with quote
 

NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 20:28
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Pâté chinois Feb 1, 2006

The recipe is straightforward in that link but please note, the hamburger should be cooked before the layering process.

I tend to agree with the railway worker theory.

Something that struck me when I moved to Cornwall from Hull (er, Gatineau Qué.) was that my anglo in-laws refer to this dish as pâté chinois also.

Nancy


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Garçon! There's a silly French word in my soup

Advanced search






CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search