Lack of resources/visibility for gastronomy translation
Thread poster: Idalia Rueda

Idalia Rueda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:05
Member (Apr 2018)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 1

I recently developed an interest in gastronomy translation, but when I tried to look up resources, I couldn't really find any (I only found one webinar). Why is that? You see a bunch of resources (books, magazines, webinar trainings, etc.) for other fields of translation (medicine, law, etc.). So why does this gastronomy have either very few, or very difficult to find resources? Is this simply not a very common field? Or a lucrative one?

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
My 2 cents Mar 2

I think there may be a dearth of resource material available for translating in the area of gastronomy and cuisine because there is so much variation in the terminology between regions. For example, the common names of fish can vary between one area of Spain and another, never mind between different countries around the world.
Translating gastronomic texts can be very time-consuming, as we not only have to find an appropriate translation, but they also have to sound appetising to the target audience. I don't mind doing the odd text gastronomy or cuisine, but the work is usually related to menus or lists of products in my experience. I wouldn't try to specialise in it myself, as I'm not keen on putting all my eggs in the same basket. However, I wish you all the best.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:05
German to Serbian
+ ...
Busy chefs. Mar 2

Perhaps chefs are too busy to produce content/material? Also chefs usually learn by watching and practicing, rather than reading. And the points made by neilmac are also valid.



[Edited at 2018-03-02 09:19 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:05
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My 2 cents Mar 2

I love cooking and have an extensive collection of cookery books and one or two encyclopedias on the subject. I’m not specialized but over the years I have translated a few articles for a Portuguese monthly magazine, a lot of restaurant menus and food labels and I have revised a book on Japanese food. One of the difficulties is that so many culinary terms are untranslatable: How do you translate beurre blanc, béchamel, fondue, ganache, pesto, minestra, bruschetta, gnocchi, paella, enchilada, fajitas, baba ghanoush, baklava, dolmas, feta, hummus, tabbouleh, tagine…? These are only a few that came to my mind.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Google rules! Mar 2

Teresa Borges wrote:
One of the difficulties is that so many culinary terms are untranslatable

But that's because you're a mere human translator, Teresa icon_frown.gif . Google Translate can do it - for free! Two that immediately come to mind:
Sauce rouille (FR) => rusty sauce
Pimientos de padron (ES) => peppers of the register
icon_rolleyes.gif

It's a sector that really interests me too. But the menus I've quoted my nprmal rate for have earned me about €10 an hour! Not only do you have to find ways to translate the translatable, or rather find work-arounds, but you also have the chef's flights of verbal fancy to contend with. They don't just explain what's going to be on the plate; it's more like poetry. And photos etc are rare. So you're left to do a lot of guesswork and fudging too.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:05
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
LOL Mar 2

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:
One of the difficulties is that so many culinary terms are untranslatable

But that's because you're a mere human translator, Teresa icon_frown.gif . Google Translate can do it - for free! Two that immediately come to mind:
Sauce rouille (FR) => rusty sauce
Pimientos de padron (ES) => peppers of the register
icon_rolleyes.gif

It's a sector that really interests me too. But the menus I've quoted my nprmal rate for have earned me about €10 an hour! Not only do you have to find ways to translate the translatable, or rather find work-arounds, but you also have the chef's flights of verbal fancy to contend with. They don't just explain what's going to be on the plate; it's more like poetry. And photos etc are rare. So you're left to do a lot of guesswork and fudging too.


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Valérie Ourset
Spain
Local time: 21:05
Member (Feb 2018)
English to French
+ ...
2 little things Mar 2

I have read a very interesting article on a blog about this. On the one hand, there is a need of translators/translations because gastronomy is quite "fashionable" these days and more and more culinary books are being published. On the other hand, the ones who would benefit most from a proper translation, in other words restaurants, tend to prefer to use Google Translate and you end up reading "funny menus" with very interesting spellings. I have read "baïcon" a few days ago ...
Regarding courses, I have done some investigation (I am also interested in this kind of translation) and could only find one translation school in Barcelona offering an online course in culinary translation (1 month course), when you can find thousands of courses for medical and other technical translation.


 

Idalia Rueda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:05
Member (Apr 2018)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
2 cents response… Mar 3

@neilmac:

I think there may be a dearth of resource material available for translating in the area of gastronomy and cuisine because there is so much variation in the terminology between regions…

… I'm not keen on putting all my eggs in the same basket. However, I wish you all the best.


You are quite right, and I will follow your advice! I am already involved in literary translation, as well as medical translation. I just kind of realized that I prefer culinary translation, and was wondering if it was some kind of mysterious field because no one ever seems to talk about it!


 

Idalia Rueda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:05
Member (Apr 2018)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
two little things response… Mar 3

@Valérie Ourset:

I have read a very interesting article on a blog about this. On the one hand, there is a need of translators/translations because gastronomy is quite "fashionable" these days and more and more culinary books are being published. On the other hand, the ones who would benefit most from a proper translation, in other words restaurants, tend to prefer to use Google Translate and you end up reading "funny menus" with very interesting spellings. I have read "baïcon" a few days ago ...
Regarding courses, I have done some investigation (I am also interested in this kind of translation) and could only find one translation school in Barcelona offering an online course in culinary translation (1 month course), when you can find thousands of courses for medical and other technical translation.


It's nice to know that there are others who are interested! I was starting to think that I was the only one. So far, most have said, "it's hard, don't do it." But I don't actually like translating "easy" things, because I get SUPER bored! And I will check out the translation school, thanks!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:05
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
TM Mar 5

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It's a sector that really interests me too. But the menus I've quoted my nprmal rate for have earned me about €10 an hour! Not only do you have to find ways to translate the translatable, or rather find work-arounds, but you also have the chef's flights of verbal fancy to contend with. They don't just explain what's going to be on the plate; it's more like poetry. And photos etc are rare. So you're left to do a lot of guesswork and fudging too.


Yes, if you don't do a lot, it can be time consuming.

The agency I worked at did a lot of work with Parisian caterers and we had a fantastic TM. We barely ever had to search anywhere else for terminology, and just needed to fill in for the flights of fancy. Once a top-flight caterer was unable to tell us whether the dish contained potatoes or apples, so we decided on a GIGO approach and made an arbitrary decision. Several years later we were asked to translate the same term for another client and they took the trouble to explain. We had been translating it wrong for the other client all that time. That made quite a mess in the TM!

I don't do nearly as much nowadays, but whenever I do, I miss that TM.


 

Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:05
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
My experience Mar 7

Hi!
I love cooking and I do quite a lot of gastronomic or kitchen-related translation. I had/have the same problem you mentioned, there are not many resources available (except perhaps for wine related translations), you have to build you own glossaries.

End clients often consider these texts as “easy” (after all, it can’t be that difficult to write “eggs, tomatoes”… in another language?) and they are not willing to pay much. But ingredients, kitchen equipment, techniques and measurement systems vary over the countries, what makes recipe translation quite complicated:

Some ingredients don’t exist at all in the other country, some do exist, but with different fat content, different baking qualities… The standard packaging sizes vary. A standard yeast package contains 42 g in Germany and 50 g in Sweden, baking powder is sold in small envelopes à 15 g in Germany and in 225 g boxes in Sweden. So if you just use google translate for “ein Päckchen Backpulver” your cake is probably going to explode in the oven…
Swedes use “deciliter” (= 100 milliliter) for everything (even strawberries, rice…) while Germans want to have “Gramm”. Translating the Swedish “4 dl rågsikt” into German becomes a little math puzzle if you know that “rågsikt” contains 60% wheat flour and 40% rye flour and that 1 dl wheat flour = 60g and 1 dl rye flour = 55 g (and still it’s not the same extraction rate…)


Gastronomic translation can be really fascinating. There is a market (I do product descriptions, menus, publicity, safety and hygiene instructions for a restaurant chain, instructions for kitchen equipment, recipes, cooking books …) but be careful that you don't get underpaid. Another risk is that you get hungry all the timeicon_smile.gif

Good luck!
Christina


 

Valérie Ourset
Spain
Local time: 21:05
Member (Feb 2018)
English to French
+ ...
Thank you Christina! Mar 7

For the insight and the tips!

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:05
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
looks like you could write the book! Mar 7

Christina Baier wrote:

Hi!
I love cooking and I do quite a lot of gastronomic or kitchen-related translation. I had/have the same problem you mentioned, there are not many resources available (except perhaps for wine related translations), you have to build you own glossaries.

End clients often consider these texts as “easy” (after all, it can’t be that difficult to write “eggs, tomatoes”… in another language?) and they are not willing to pay much. But ingredients, kitchen equipment, techniques and measurement systems vary over the countries, what makes recipe translation quite complicated:

Some ingredients don’t exist at all in the other country, some do exist, but with different fat content, different baking qualities… The standard packaging sizes vary. A standard yeast package contains 42 g in Germany and 50 g in Sweden, baking powder is sold in small envelopes à 15 g in Germany and in 225 g boxes in Sweden. So if you just use google translate for “ein Päckchen Backpulver” your cake is probably going to explode in the oven…
Swedes use “deciliter” (= 100 milliliter) for everything (even strawberries, rice…) while Germans want to have “Gramm”. Translating the Swedish “4 dl rågsikt” into German becomes a little math puzzle if you know that “rågsikt” contains 60% wheat flour and 40% rye flour and that 1 dl wheat flour = 60g and 1 dl rye flour = 55 g (and still it’s not the same extraction rate…)


Gastronomic translation can be really fascinating. There is a market (I do product descriptions, menus, publicity, safety and hygiene instructions for a restaurant chain, instructions for kitchen equipment, recipes, cooking books …) but be careful that you don't get underpaid. Another risk is that you get hungry all the timeicon_smile.gif

Good luck!
Christina


Since there's a dearth of material and you know all about it, I suggest you write the book, Christina! (I'll proofread you if you like!)

Oh yes, and I know all about feeling hungry. I always negotiate afternoon deadlines, because it's just horrid having to translate all this stuff about fine dining then heating up the leftovers from last night's dinner!


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:05
German to Serbian
+ ...
Marketing or gastronomy? Mar 7

Valérie Ourset wrote:

I have read a very interesting article on a blog about this. On the one hand, there is a need of translators/translations because gastronomy is quite "fashionable" these days and more and more culinary books are being published. On the other hand, the ones who would benefit most from a proper translation, in other words restaurants, tend to prefer to use Google Translate and you end up reading "funny menus" with very interesting spellings. I have read "baïcon" a few days ago ...
Regarding courses, I have done some investigation (I am also interested in this kind of translation) and could only find one translation school in Barcelona offering an online course in culinary translation (1 month course), when you can find thousands of courses for medical and other technical translation.


Gastronomy would be an expert cookbook, while restaurant dish names would fall into "marketing" category.

These are generally small niches, any gastronomy sub-field, and recipes are not shared in files or content, as they are often protected or unique formulations. Unless you are talking about pop youtube gastronomy where anybody can publish anything.


 

Valérie Ourset
Spain
Local time: 21:05
Member (Feb 2018)
English to French
+ ...


Posted via
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Thank you for sharing more tips! Mar 7

I have a whole collection of cookbooks (I always buy one when I travel and have a beautiful one about Croatian gastronomy) and I have seen some very dreadful translations... Hope I can find some translations to work on because I love the topic.

Thanks again and all for sharing tips and experiences.


 


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