How to Translate Recipes of International Cuisine?

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Cooking is one of the most exciting human activities ever. It’s not exactly monotonous, as some would assume. Certain processes require repeating an action over and over again, like string vegetables or beating dough. Yet, such actions come in great numbers and variety. On top of that, the result of all the processes is often tasty and nutritious. So, there’s always a goal to pursue. But what if you want to cook something by the recipe that is available only in another language?

chef with a dish

International Recipes

recipe book

The reasons why you might hold on to a recipe in another language might be many. It can be the only recipe that you could have found on the internet. It could be an old recipe by your distant relative who came from another country. Finally, you might want to cook something exotic and unique to a certain country or ethnicity. In either case, such things make it very frustrating to try and translate such recipes using first-hand resources.

The problem is that translating recipes from any language to any other language is much harder than it seems. Some ingredients, measures, and processes might be specific, so Google Translate or a regular dictionary certainly won’t help. Also, the names of certain dishes are untranslatable and require an alternative approach. Translating recipes is no easy feat. Yet, some of the best translation websites claim that they can handle the task. Still, if you consider translating a recipe using your resources, here are a few points to consider.

Don’t Focus On Translating Dish Titles

As already mentioned, certain dish names are simply untranslatable, so you can not even bother trying to interpret them. Multiple dishes were not translated, but we use their titles all the time. Such names include pizza, pasta, borsch, and moussaka. While the original names were kept, we still understand what’s what because no translation can replicate the original meaning and because there’s simply no need.

Prioritize Converting Measures

Different countries use varying measurement systems. So, it might get confusing as you start sorting the ingredients out. Most European countries, for instance, have relied on the metric system for quite a long time now, while the United States still uses the standard measurement system. Now, all of that is fine, but Asian countries might use yet different systems. Some Australasian countries might also measure things differently. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on measures first.

Sometimes, you might need to use a biology textbook. The authors of culinary books or recipes might understand all the hardship of translating the whole process, the ingredients, and measures into another language. They might use scientific names for herbs or animals. For example, instead of Broccoli, you might see Brassica oleracea, while the Rabbit will become Oryctolagus cuniculus. While it seems like more gibberish was added into the whole mess, it’s, in fact, some help from the author.

Translate Into A Proper Variant of The Language

If you don’t translate the recipe for yourself, you might want to consider your target audience. For example, if you translate into American English, you must make sure that the standard measurement system is referred to at all times. Besides, the names of certain plants might differ from British English. Eggplant must be referred to instead of aubergine, a frying pan instead of a skillet, and so on.

Cooking The Right Translation

As it is evident, translating recipes and cookbooks is not an easy feat, sometimes, even for professional translators. Still, it is worth the effort, especially if the recipe turns cooking into art. One of the best things that translation gives us is the ability to familiarize ourselves with different cultures and worldviews. And one of the best ways to do that is through the taste buds. Being parts of our tongues, they can, perhaps, speak the best.

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