Puzzled by batidora

This is not exactly a food word but it occurs in the Spanish definition of

BATIDO (literally: milkshake) Bebida refrescante no alcohólica, hecha principalmente a base de leche y frutas, todo ello mezclado por medio de una batidora. Non-alcoholic refreshing beverage, made mainly from milk and fruit, all mixed with a blender.

Now the GallinaBlanca dictionary has both batidor and batidora

BATIDOR (literally: whisk or beater) Aparato para batir, eléctrico o de varillas, manual. Machine for whipping, electric or rod, manual.
BATIDORA (literally: mixer or blender) Instrumento que mediante movimiento giratorio bate los ingredientes de alimentos, condimentos o bebidas. instrument that by rotating movement whisks the ingredients of food, condiments or beverages.

hard to say if this is blender or mixer (in sense of a Kitchen-Aide) or both? Shows as a blender at an online buying site in Spain but at Amazon as mixer.

so, first, it’s unclear why that have two closely similar terms that really seem to describe the same thing.

So, as part of this whole project of can an non-Spanish speaker in U.S. figure out puzzles like this I managed to find multiple online purchasing sites, in Spain (or at least .es domain) that sell kitchen appliances (cool term I found in the online Oxford Spanish dictionary, aparato electrodoméstico) and mostly I found blenders, but some sites had both blenders or mixers under the category of batidora. The Oxford definition seems strongly to imply blender

Household kitchen appliance for crushing, mixing or whipping food consisting of a bar, finished in blades or rods, which rotates at high speed.

So after a fair amount of time spent trying to figure this out I conclude it is somewhat ambiguous and if I were a Spaniard asking for either a mixer or blender for this recent Christmas I’d probably need to be precise about what I actually wanted.


Adventures with sources

Note: I’ve been involved in a particular part of this project for nearly a week and have material for numerous posts but due to holiday activities haven’t had the time to make any posts, so now I’ll just provide the background for some future posts when I catch up.

My project involves building up a large corpus of Spanish food items and descriptions (aka preparations, recipes)  from menus of actual restaurants in Spain and then from that corpus deducing (ideally with some AI-ish code) a Spanish-to-English “vocabulary” of food terms/phrases/concepts, not just for Spanish in general, but specific to Iberian Spanish (thus avoiding many terms only found in Western Hemisphere, or worse, that mean something different in Spain than elsewhere (e.g. tortilla)).

So I was doing my virtual walk along the Camino de Santiago and finding restaurants via POIs on Google Maps and then grabbing those that had websites and online menus to extract for my corpus, a tedious process but one that produces good “raw” data plus gives me a chance to actually internalize some Spain food knowledge (vs pure AI approach that Google uses). In doing this I went off on two levels of distraction. First, I noticed a grocery store (supermercado) on the map that then had a website and as it turns out, also, online ordering. This was a great source since it had photos of the available products and thus the opportunity to get equivalent English words for the Spanish names of food items PLUS this would be oriented to Spain, not general Spanish. Second, in doing this I stumbled on to another business that is selling food online, Gallina Blanca, which I learned was a rather large multinational supplier to restaurants and homecooks. On their website they have a large number of recipes (recetas) which if I get decent translations would be a large source for my corpus, not just ingredients, but also preparation techniques.

But then I discovered an interesting item at the bottom of the webpage, a link to a diccionario.  I thought this would be a real bonanza of food terms but quickly learned: a) it is a real pain to extract information just due to the mechanics of how the webpage is built (i.e. mostly javascript, not HTML, therefore nothing to “copy” (with mouse selection) despite seeing it on the screen), and, b) then as I tediously did begin to extract some information and began to work out a process I realized ‘dictionary’, in this case, meant something different than I thought. I’m used to finding “translation dictionaries” online and referring to these just as ‘dictionary’. But at Gallina Blanca’s site they have the classic notion of a dictionary, i.e. a word (or term) and its definition, in Spanish. What I was expecting, naively, was the English equivalent for Spanish food terms and it turns out I have to do a lot more work to get that. So, for example,

AGUACATE Árbol originario de América, cultivado por su fruto, de pulpa espesa y perfumada. Muy usado para ensaladas, salsas y sopas. Native tree of America, cultivated by its fruit, of thick and fragrant pulp. Widely used for salads, sauces and soups.

Note: This is a good example of how there are enough cognates in the Spanish definition that it is possible, plus knowing only a few rules, to assign the word-by-word correspondence between Spanish and English for the corpus even without any significant knowledge of Spanish.

The actual dictionary gives me the definition in Spanish of aguacate. I used spanishdict.com’s translate function to get the English from the Spanish definition.  BUT, this didn’t quite get me the same thing as finding that aguacate literally translates to avocado (which is itself a loanword in English) which then gives me a much better notion of what aguacate really means (especially in context of a restaurant menu) than the dictionary definition.

But in other cases having the definition is handy, especially in comparison to the literal translations in some dictionaries. For instance,

ABRILLANTAR Dar brillo a cualquier preparado con jalea, gelatina, grasa, o pintando con huevo la superficie de un manjar antes de meter al horno o de presentarlo. Give shine to any preparation with jelly, jelly, fat, or by painting with egg the surface of a delicacy before putting it in the oven or presenting it.

Brighten any preparation with jelly, jelly, grease, or painting with egg the surface of a delicacy before putting it in the oven or presenting it.

For this word I got both the spanishdict.com translation (first one) and the Google translation (second one). abrillantar is obviously a verb and literally means ‘to polish’  (which one might guess) but its meaning in the cooking sense is better explained by the definition provided from this website, which I’d probably translate simply as ‘glaze’ even though glasear is the Spanish verb for that.

So after some time I have steadily refined my process (and streamlined it a bit, actually learning a semi-hidden feature of MSWord to reduce number of manual steps per entry) and begun to realize what I can really learn from the tedious process of crunching through a large number of terms (gracias, GallinaBlanca). And several of those entries will be the basis of some future posts.

But I have been curious about attempting to discover the source and range of this dictionary. GallinaBlanca doesn’t say anything (that I can find) about where they obtained this dictionary. So I face a classic problem I had in earlier versions of this project of getting terms that really are for Spain, not somewhere else in Spanish-speaking world where those terms might not be used or understood in a restaurant in Spain. But without any explanation of this dictionary this is a guessing process for me, but occasionally I get clues. For example,

AREPA Pan de maíz amasado con huevos y manteca. Corn bread kneaded with eggs and lard.

Wikipedia has a good article on arepa that makes it fairly clear this is something common in Colombia or Venezuela but doesn’t even mention Spain. This is just one clue (I’ve had a few others in my work thus far but none as clear as this one, yet) and so I expect to find more as I work through and thus, hopefully, determine if this dictionary cannot fully apply to Spain (which, btw, I learned (I think) is best to refer to its Spanish as ‘Iberian’ or ‘peninsular’ (and not Castilian or castellano, since that irritates some people).

Also given there is no explanation of the source of this dictionary at the website I also have questions whether it is accurate. There is a clear error in the javascript – each page of the dictionary (by letter) is obtained by clicking on the letter in an A B …Z bar except that starting at ‘O’ it’s off by one position (‘O’ gets you words starting with ‘N’ and so forth). IOW, a simple human error. And one error makes me question if there are others. So, for example

ACIDELAR Poner zumo de limón o vinagre en el agua para cocinar huevos escalfados o verduras, para que no ennegrezcan. Put lemon juice or vinegar in the water to cook poached eggs or vegetables, so that they do not blackened. ₽  ₽ Put lemon juice or vinegar in the water to cook poached eggs or vegetables, so they do not blacken.

I couldn’t find acidelar in any online dictionary but did find this

ACIDULAR (literally: acidulate, make sour) Rociar con un líquido ácido frutas, verduras u hortalizas, con el fin de que conserven su blancura o color. Sprinkle with an acidic liquid fruit, vegetables or vegetables so that they retain their whiteness or colour.

Spray fruit, vegetables or vegetables with an acidic liquid, in order to preserve their whiteness or color.

so since the definitions seem mostly the same is the ‘e’ really supposed to be ‘u’ and whoever composed this dictionary just made a typo?

But the most interesting mystery (thus far) along these lines was

ALBARICO Especie de Palma (Bractis setulosa). Species of palm (Bractis setulosa).

I couldn’t find albarico in any online dictionary BUT there is the very similar term (in the GallinaBlanca dictionary and elsewhere) which is

ALBARICOQUE (literally: apricot, probably the fruit, not the tree itself) Fruto de albaricoquero, de hueso liso y piel y carne amarillas. Albaricoquero. Apricot fruit, smooth bone and yellow skin and flesh. Apricot.

So while the descriptions are quite different I thought, perhaps, albarico was simple some short form of albaricoque. But this is wrong.

In some cases words in Spanish, especially for plants, are derived from the Latin scientific nomenclature so I tried to look up, Bractis setulosa, assuming that (from the definition) was the Latin name. No results. So I tried bractis alone (found nothing that made sense) and then setulosa. A-ha! There was a valid entry, that seemed to match definition, for bactris setulosa AND this is a tree, according to Wikipedia ” spiny palm which is found in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname”. (also evidence this dictionary is not for Iberian Spanish) So that looks like a very plausible human typo, moving the ‘r’ from second syllable where it should be to first syllable where it is wrong (in the sense nothing can be found for that spelling). I felt this was a good piece of detective work on my part to spot this AND it represents fairly good proof there are mistakes in this dictionary. And where there is one there may be more.

So I’m still learning all sorts of interesting things from my slow plodding through all these entries (and will do some more posts) but all this work shows the challenge of trying to get an accurate (and even harder, complete) translation dictionary for Iberian Spanish.

No translation, it is what it is

One of the fun challenges of this project is that some words that describe a dish in Spain simply have no translation to English, or, if the dish is well-known just have the Spanish word used in English, e.g. paella and gazpacho – these are common enough to just be known by the Spanish word in any English menu.

But, what about dishes that are less well known? Eventually I expect to compile a list of these (as one of my reference pages) because there is no translation into English, just an explanation of what the dish is you’ll just have to know.

So, while probing the mysteries of the online dictionary I found (which more and more doesn’t look to be specific to Spain even though I found it on a website in Spain) I encountered this:

FIDEUA – FIDEUÀ Plato semejante a la paella hecho con fideos en lugar de arroz. Paella-like dish made with noodles instead of rice.

Initially I was interested in this entry in the dictionary due to the two different spellings, as a potential clue to how this dictionary applies. I’d already encountered this in this dictionary having an entry “FRÉJOLFRIJOL” and learning that fréjol is primarily used in South American countries, not Spain (in fact, is frijol itself used in Spain or is it judía (not judia, accent is critical) or alubia? – all these are some sort of ‘bean’). Thus, perhaps, this dictionary is not only not Spain-specific but it may contain words not commonly used in Spain and/or that have a different meaning in Spain.

Anyway back to fideuà. This was an easy one to track down (relative to the main topic of this post). As good as anything else is this information from Wikipedia:

Fideuà (dialectal pronunciation of the Valencian/Catalan word fideuada “large amount of noodles”) is a seafood dish originally from the coast of Valencia which is similar to paella, and even more to arròs a banda, but with noodles instead of rice. Its main ingredients are: pasta noodles (usually hollow), fish (rockfish, monkfish, cuttlefish, squid), and shellfish (Squilla mantis, shrimp, crayfish). It is seasoned mainly with lemon.

and this source (http://spanish-trails.com/paella-and-fideua-what-are-the-differences/) is very helpful (assuming it’s correct and it seems to be in casual reading) at explaining the difference.

So an interesting question (for me) is how to handle this kind of “word” in both my lists and then in software? It’s not a term that translates so what should I say in the translation?

btw: My attempt to understand the translation spanishdict.com provided exposed me to the interesting phrase,  en lugar de (instead of) which is one point of doing all this tedious work, i.e. I’m learning some Spanish by seeing how words are used (now can I remember any of it?)

Bogging down

I was chugging alone making good progress on mining corpus data from restaurant menus and then I began to run off in a diversion. As I work and find confusing issues in translations I make notes to myself to return and investigate these and attempt to come up with definitive answer.  But what is going to be “definitive” for me when I don’t actually know the language, especially as used in Spain?

Well, I do searches, read comments or analysis or claims other people make, weigh these against each other, determine if the source seems reliable (easier to do in politics where sources are so biased, on a neutral topic like this they may just be wrong without malice). So, probably a couple of examples are needed to make sense of what I’m saying.

Quickly one finds a number of different terms for cuts of meat, primarily beef. Now this isn’t so obvious in English (U.S.) either, e.g. what’s the difference between a New York strip and a strip steak and a sirloin and prime rib? The words themselves are not entirely clear and even finding a butcher’s chart doesn’t totally help. Or what about St. Louis ribs vs baby-backs – I imagine a Spanish speaking person has fun trying to figure out what those are. So I’ve found, at least, between solomillo, entrecot[e], costillas, lomo, chuletón, filete, bistec on menus – what do these mean? lomo not only has the meaning, as cut of meat, of ‘loin’ but also probably more frequently refers to pork than beef, something easy to understand if you visit local cafes in Iowa. The biggest confusion I find (since both seem to come from same place in the animal) is entrecot vs chuletón, where the difference seems to be primarily thickness, but also potentially a quality issue. But my point here is that I haven’t been able to come to a definitive answer by finding sources, especially as I’m dependent on Google Translate to make Spanish language articles readable and so get amusing things like ‘what is the difference between squid and squid’ given I asked for the difference between two words that can each be translated to squid.

So that’s a distraction and a discouragement, not to be able to clearly work this out. A diner in the U.S. would certainly care whether the beef they were getting was sirloin or round or chuck so I would expect the same would apply to Spain. In the few menus that have prices I can fairly safely deduce the “steaks” they’re providing aren’t particularly good, either the cut or the quality. So how does one decide?

Meanwhile I got caught up in a digression about chile peppers. Guindilla pepper appears on many menus, especially as they are common in Basque influenced parts of Spain (where I’m virtually traveling at the moment). These are a specific (not very hot) type of pepper where guindilla also sometimes is a generic reference to peppers as a group (just as pimienta often is even though sometimes it’s a specific type of pepper).

And I found a “dictionary” (truly a dictionary, not a translation dictionary, for Spanish words then with definitions of the word itself entirely in Spanish) and I encountered adobo and abobar. adobar is a verb meaning (Google translation of the dictionary item) ‘To season with spices, juices, herbs, etc., the fish or the meat in crude to give them better flavor or to facilitate their conservation.’ which I suppose is a good definition given the translation of adobar is to pickle or to preserve or to marinate. So adobo (which can be a dish (in Philippines), a sauce, or a marinade) is (fairly clearly from multiple sources) derived word from the verb. But what does it really mean, especially relative to Spain. Here in U.S., where Mexican cuisine heavily influences broadly on cuisine, adobo is something chiptotle peppers are most often packed in but then also something one uses as an additive (more like an ingredient (like Worcester) than a sauce). But does this apply to Spain? Or, more broadly, is the dictionary I found a generic one for Spanish and not necessarily focused on Spain.

This is an issue I’ve encountered in earlier versions of this project and if you don’t think it’s a big issue find out what tortilla is in Spain (compared to what you know it to mean in U.S.) – seriously different.

So since one definition of adobo is that it must be created with chiptotle peppers do these even get used in Spanish cuisine. For those of you who don’t do much cooking peppers are huge mystery here since peppers can have multiple names (do you know ancho and pablano are really the same which pablano being the green/fresh version and ancho is dried version). Well chiptotle is not a type of pepper but instead a preparation, i.e. a smoked and dried jalapeno. So does any of this apply to Spain?

And my answer is, well, I don’t know, after doing multiple searches and reading multiple articles. I get confusing results. It’s not clear that this is a puzzle I can solve and it may require a native Spaniard with strong culinary experience (hey, José Andrés , are you available for a little consulting gig?).

So in trying to resolve these ambiguities I’ve just created more issues and am a bit discouraged whether I can ever solve things like this. But even then, does it matter: for those of us used to peppers used in cooking in U.S., would a clear description of piquillo, padron or guindilla, in words really help anyone trying to decide on something from the menu if you don’t actually know what these peppers taste like and how they complement the dish? Even if I could clearly and unambiguously (say with the Latin species names and good photos plus some culinary definition) “define” these it may not help much in you, Dear Reader, imagining what they taste like and whether you’d like to eat them.

So is this project hopeless (other than getting a rather simple translation glossary, probably knowing anchoas (even though these may be very different in Spain than on the pizza in U.S.) or callos will still be helpful.

A couple of interesting new sources

For the most part I started collected my corpus of dual Spanish (Spain) / English words or phrases from menus I find online of restaurants that are definitely in Spain (so avoid other variations of Spanish in other parts of the world). It’s a tedious process to dig out the menus and create side-by-side tables in MSWord. But the slow and tedious process also allows me to learn (i.e. actual human intelligence vs Google’s AI approach) something that I’d miss with a more automated process.

And as I’ve mentioned my choice of restaurants to research comes from my virtual tour of the Camino de Santiago where I plot my cumulative mileage on a treadmill in my basement to actual waypoints along the trail. Given Google does a nice job of annotating various points of interest, esp. restaurants, I can find those that have menus online.

Fine, but recently I realized I can expand my sources for the corpus a bit more. Just out of curiosity I explored a link to a large grocery chain (BM SUPERMERCADOS) in Spain that happened to have an outlet in Estella. Exploring that website I found the Compra Online  link (Google translates to ‘online shopping’). And that part of the website has a large list of products one can purchase online (usually with pictures; and in categories) so a side-by-side translation corpus can be created, but also some brand names can be learned to subtract out of other menus where the brand name doesn’t translate and therefore is confusing what it means.

But then I found something even more interesting, again by accident. This is a real jewel, https://www.gallinablanca.es/recetas/. This is a large collection of recipes (recetas) which means lots of instruction of cooking terms plus lots about ingredients.  I’ve only just begun to explore this site but I also found it has a Diccionario (I think you can guess this as a cognate) truly a dictionary in that you click a word and a definition pops up, in Spanish (no English and Google Translate doesn’t work in these popups, so lots of fun to copy-and-paste the definition into a translation site). The website is produced by Gallina Blanca, which appears to be the maker (or brand) of various packaged food products which are also on sale at this site. There is a lot of food information here – too bad they don’t do an English version of the site so I’d get a better translation than Google. It’s a huge site as witnessed by its search results for ‘huevos’, 7,909 results!

And finally (and I’ll do a separate post on this) I found some food terminology that isn’t directly related to menus but can be used to supplement my corpus. Juice&World in Villatuerta is the manufacturer and distributor of various bottled drinks and they have their product list in both Spanish and English so I can obtain their translations (which, btw, doesn’t guarantee they do it any better than Google but hopefully they do). But  you get things like this to cut up to put in the side-by-side corpus

De la mezcla de zumo de lima, naranja y limón, con un toque de hierbabuena y menta, hemos creado esta bebida sin alcohol dando un estilo personal a la tradicional bebida cubana We have created this non-alcoholic drink from a mixture of lime, orange and lemon juice with a touch of spearmint and mint to give a personal style to the traditional Cuban drink

Now even though I don’t know Spanish I’ve done enough fiddling to figure out how to associate bits of the Spanish with their connected bit of English, like (easy) lima (lime, obvious cognate), naranja (orange, I happen to remember that) and limón (lemon, obvious cognate). But less obvious is hierbabuena which translates to spearmint even though spanishdict.com merely has its translation as mint because the y menta is the clue to tie to and mint in the translation and thus deduce spearmint as the word before y.

Interestingly it took a little remembering that adjectives follow nouns (often) and thus non-alcoholic drink is bebida sin alcohol.

This muddling through pieces of text with some sort of translation and with lookups, plus at least short-term memory, is actual part of my learning experience. If I had the time to do this all day-long (and I have tons of source material for that, already way behind on my inventory of links just from Estella alone and I really haven’t had the chance to do Pamplona, an even bigger list) I probably would know a lot of Spanish just from all the repetitive work that does help to burn words (plus a little structure of the language) into one’s brain.

Note: Added after original post. I was trying to locate the grocery I mentioned above on Google maps and instead ended up with this one, Dia, also in Estella. This gave me another interesting idea about confusing translations. Their online shopping is in categories so I was looking at pescado y marisco (fish and shellfish (or sometimes just generic term for any seafood)). And on that page there are images but also everything is either fish or some seafood, except tubo de pato which Google amusingly translated as ‘potato tube’. Since I’d just earlier been looking at potato options I wondered what a tube of potato might be (there is more to this story). In the image associated with this item it sure looks like the body of a squid and is labeled tubo de pato on the package. spanishdict.com fairly quickly resolves the silliness of Google’s translation by indicating pato is cuttlefish (the reverse lookup for ‘squid’ yields calamar, an obvious cognate to Italian but I have a hard time seeing any difference).

But based on only a single source is this information (Google translated):

They are selling a cephalopod of lesser gastronomic value than the squid that we appreciate,

The squid or giant squid , also known as luras in Galicia or cuttlefish in South America (although the cuttlefish is actually cuttlefish in our country, and is called choco when its size is like that of the palm of the hand), it constitutes several species , such as the common pota ( Todarodes sagittatus ), the flying squid ( Illex coindetii ), which is small in size, or the Argentine squid ( Illex argentinus ), which is granted greater quality.

Amusingly Google translated this article as “difference between squid and squid” given my query was ‘difference between pato and calamar’. It’s hard to say from a single source this is a correct distinction but it sounds good. Which then raises another issue – mislabeling of ingredients on menus. If one were concerned about this I suppose this is another reason to actually learn to speak and hear Spanish so one can query the server whether your menu item is the lesser cuttlefish or superior squid.

Note2: My other story was another stab at attempting to determine what patata fritas are (mentioned in earlier post). So, this grocery store has a convenient search so in went patata fritas and I got multiple pages of hits: mostly potato chips (including good old Lays) but also frozen potato wedges (kinda like steak fries, probably the closest to the literal translation) and also numerous frozen French fries (some with English on the packages, e.g. ‘frites’, ‘golden long’, and ‘wedges’). So this didn’t help any but it seems clear that if you want fries with your lunch you need to ask the server whether you’ll get chips or fries and I have no idea how to do that with minimal Spanish fluency.

Good words to notice: incluido and suplemento

Many of the menus in Spain are a fixed price with some choices for each of the meal courses. This is a convenient buying option to be able to pick a price and then the items available within that price.


You should notice these two words on the menu.

incluido:  Usually somewhere at the bottom these item indicates what additional costs might be included (or not, as in incluido) the bill, typically the VAT (tax) or IVA (in Spanish). But you may also encounter that one of the items as suplemento, an extra charge for this particular item.

Or, for the cognate incluir is the verb and (incluyo, incluyes, incluye, incluimos, incluís, incluyen are conjugations that might be used), notice that no is not which may proceed these various forms to indicate something is not included.

To avoid surprises you should scan the menu carefully and make sure you understand the possibility (or exclusion) of additional fees added to the check.

Note that tipping is typically not done, although: a) in restaurants primarily for tourists tipping may be standard (or at least they’ll try to convince you it’s appropriate, given you are used to it in other countries), or, b) a small “round up” in the bill may be just a bit extra to supplement the compensation your server will receive.

Time for some galletas

While I’m still a mile east of a small village, Villatuerta, on the Camino I was looking ahead on the Google maps and spotted a different type of food establishment that looked potentially interesting to pick up some translations. Pastas Dolores Guembe (a bakery) has a website and thus some explanation of their products and thus the chance to get some different translation equivalences (at least from Google).

As usual I’m trying to muddle through a few of the more confusing (to an outsider) bits of terminology used at this site. First we start with the use of the term, pastas (as a heading, as in Pastas normales o blancas and Pastas integrales). An Italian or literal America might be expecting one thing but buried a bit (4th meaning) at spanishdict.com we do find ‘cookies’ (also ‘paste’ and ‘pastries’). Now a reverse lookup has ‘cookies’ as galletas, which would seem to make more sense but perhaps some of these products are closer to pastries and thus they don’t want to limit themselves to implying they only provide cookies.

So that’s the first fun part but then what about integrales (vs normales)? Fortunately the site provides ample clues to figure this one out. Here are two different cookies, one from each category, with their list of ingredients:

Galleta rellena de chocolate

Ingredientes: harina, margarina, azúcar y chocolate

Cookie filled with chocolate

Ingredients: flour, margarine, sugar and chocolate


Rosco de chocolate

Ingredientes: harina integral, margarina vegetal, fructosa, chocolate y huevos

Chocolate Rosco

Ingredients: whole wheat flour, vegetable margarine, fructose, chocolate and eggs

The key thing to note is the modifier to harina of integral. harina has straightforward and reasonably unambiguous translation just to ‘flour’ (think about masa harina in the U.S. for Mexican food lovers) and all the various translation sources (including Google’s literal, although one they mysteriously said ‘wholemeal flour’) indicate that integral is implying whole-wheat flour (instead of the implied blanco of the first type of cookies).

But another interesting clue is the modifier vegetal for the margarina vegetal. Other than the obvious literal translation of vegetable the addition of this modifier suggests something else (since margarine is already not an animal fat, like butter or lard). The best I could find was a single web article, in Spanish, of a vegan cook explaining how to create margarina vegetal with full compliance to vegan diet. The page at this company’s website has language that suggests all the foodie terminology so I think it might be safe, even with such limited data, to believe vegetal, in this case, means vegetarian or vegan.

But another interesting and confusing term (from this item)

Almendra fructosa

Ingredientes: harina integral, margarina vegetal, fructosa y almendra

Fructose almond

Ingredients: whole wheat flour, vegetable margarine, fructose and almond

is fructosa. Now this translates literal to fructose and that is somehow what it is, BUT, the whole fructose (vs glucose) naming of sugar runs into all sorts of interesting food fights. In the U.S. high fructose corn syrup is viewed as a villain by many (especially as the main sweetener in soft drinks).  But this is a strange argument of biochemical terminology. Ordinary table sugar (in U.S.) is known as sucrose, which is a disaccharide, a molecule composed of the two monosaccharides glucose and fructose (in equal parts).  But sugars derived from fruits might, like high-fructose corn syrup, contain more fructose. So for a health-conscious business, like this one appears to be, why the emphasis on this. In fact, here are the various terms they mention (extracted from all their products) for sweeteners:

azúcar sugar
azucar de caña cane sugar
azúcar integral whole sugar (presumably something like turbinado)
fructosa fructose

so which type of sweetener being used is a big deal to this establishment.

So after doing my best to come up with the closest translation just this one establishment with its lists of ingredientes per product produces about 40 terms to add to my glossary with most of them relatively unambiguous. And since they also have pictures on their webpage I wish I could actually visit this establishment and give a few of these a try.

Where on the Camino?

I’ve mentioned that I’m finding restaurant menus along the route of the Camino de Santiago to provide source material for my project. Now saying ‘Camino de Santiago’ isn’t that helpful since there are many routes with that name, even though all of them end up in Santiago de Compostella, an ancient city in Galacia Spain. So I’m following the most common and well-known route, the French way that starts in the Pyrennes in the town of Saint Jean of Pied de Port (the same one as in The Way movie). This reaches Pamplona (the city of the famous bullfights and running of the bulls) after 42.5 miles of walking. I reached this on my virtual walk on November 22.

Now most days (usually six out of seven) I’m doing both stationary biking (about 25 miles/day; IRL I could probably bike the Camino in less than two weeks) and treadmill (only about 1.5 miles/day; my “real” hikes on trails around here are 7-15 miles so compatible with completing the Camino in less than two months) so my virtual pace along the Camino is quite slow compared to what is usually expected (or required if you plan on having a bed for the night since those tend to be further apart than a mere 1.5 miles, but nonetheless frequent and conveniently spaced (at least some bed). So of course I’ll take a lot longer than the usual peregrino (pilgrim).

After leaving Pamplona (which is where I started this project) I followed a GPS track I found online. I’ve studied this in detail, literally every few tenths of a mile, comparing the GPS track to other ground truth Google provides (including, in places its own labeling of the Camino). A complaint (or disillusionment) about the Camino is that much of it is actually hiking on vehicle roads (or the path alongside) and often that means the route has Google Street Views as their cars covered all the substantial roads in the area.

In general, in case you want to try to locate this on maps, the route follows the N-111 (from Pamplona to  Logroño via Estella). Some of this route has been upgraded to Autovía A-12 which goes even further in the direction of the Camino to Burgos (about 181 along the Camino from St. Jean).  Also you can use this map as I’m doing.

Right now I’m in the section between Cirauqui and Lorca which is devoid of restaurants and even at times directly next to A-12. It looks a lot to me like walking along I-70 in western Kansas and not some of the more exciting parts (although looking as dry as Kansas there must be irrigation (saw an aqueduct crossing a highway) as the farming is more orchards and vineyards, but that’s because it’s so much warmer, so perhaps more equivalent to eastern part of California Central Valley). There is the Panadería Artesana (literal artisan bakery) in Lorca but it doesn’t have a website so there is no information I can extract. The next restaurants, with websites, are in Villatuerta, which is still 4.1 miles away on my slow virtual trek so that will give me time to go back and research Pamplona. A quick glance already indicates the far more touristy and upscale (much more expensive) restaurants have completely different menus which gives me some diversity in my source material.

So, onward, and buen camino.


Colors (and other adjectives) on menus

If you’ve never studied a language that has gender and number as modification of adjectives you may find menus (and especially just extracting words from menus to create a glossary) confusing. Usually the adjective (color, in this post) precedes a noun and that noun may be singular or plural (cebolla, cebollas; mejillón, mejillónes – easy as similar to English, in general) and most nouns have gender cebolla (feminine) and cordero (masculine) [ending in o (masc) or a (fem) is usually a good clue]. So a word for color itself has to change based on number or gender.

Also note, unlike English, that typically in Spanish the noun comes before the modifying adjective,

For instance, negro (black) is negro, negra, negros, negras depending on gender and number of the noun it modifies, as in frijoles negros or aceituna negra.

So here are most of the colors you’d find on menus:

masc sing. fem sing. masc plural fem plural
red rojo roja rojos rojas
purple violeta violeta violeta violeta
blue azul azul azules azules
green verde verde verdes verdes
yellow amarillo amarilla amarillos amarillas
orange anaranjado anaranjada anaranjados anaranjadas
black negro negra negros negras
white blanco blanca blancos blancas
grey gris gris grises grises
brown marron marrón marrones marrones
pink rosado rosada rosados rosadas

violeta does not depend on either gender or number;  azul, verde, gris don’t depend on gender.

A couple of other colors I’ve fished out of menus are shown below but I haven’t found their gender/number variations, so take your best guess.

dorado gold
plateado silver
purpura purple
rosa pink
pardo brown


btw: I find it amusing that one Spanish word I should know is Amarillo (yellow) since I was born in a town of that name in Texas. Of course we pronounced it wrong actually saying the ll (versus y sound in Spanish). I wonder what a Spaniard might think if I said I was born in that town and used our corrupted pronunciation.

revuelto explained

I’ve encountered this word on numerous menus and the literal translation gives a clue but not a very good one. For instance,

Revuelto de champiñón Mushroom scrambled

So what is this, a mixed up bunch of mushrooms? (champiñón should be easy for you if you happen to know French, champignons; but setas is also common with one source distinguishing this word as used for “flat-top” mushrooms (vs round-top for champiñón)). And this is a good example of Spanish elsewhere than Spain having words for mushrooms you (probably) would not find in Spain: hongo (Latin America), callampa (Chile).

But revuelto, according to spanishdict.com has a ton of meanings: messy, upside down, mixed up, scrambled (getting close), mixed, unsettled, rough, disheveled, untidy, upset, nauseous, cloudy, turbid, restless, turbulent, and then finally, 9th in the list, the one we want (under heading of culinary), scrambled eggs.

Now most of us wouldn’t put mushrooms in “scrambled eggs” (in an omelet perhaps, so maybe that is what this is).

This website, which describes lots of Spanish egg dishes provides this:

A revuelto is another Spanish egg dish that is ripe with possibilities. Revueltos are always served with one or two other ingredients mixed in. Some of the most popular scrambled egg add-ins are blood sausage, asparagus, cod fish or garlic stalks.

While this source makes the comparison to omelets the sample picture it shows (as well as other images in Google searcch) clearly shows something more like a scramble than an omelet.

And this webpage which has a full description says thusly:

A revuelto is a dish of scrambled eggs mixed with other ingredients. In Spain, you will find revueltos served in bars and restaurants, but they are also cooked at home. They are kind of like the omelets that Americans enjoy. Think of them as scrambled eggs served Spanish style.

Revueltos appear on menus with a wide variety of ingredients mixed into the eggs. While this source makes the comparison to omelets the sample picture it shows (as well as other photos) clearly shows something more like a scramble than an omelet.

And just for fun, here’s some combinations this source shows so you get a look at a manual translation for a change.

Ajetes, trigueros y gambas Garlic shoots, asparagus and shrimp
Champinones y gambas White mushrooms and shrimp
Gambas y tomate Shrimp and tomato
Jamon y cebolla Ham and onions
Setas y morcilla Wild mushrooms and blood sausage
Espinacas Spinach
Gambas y rape Shrimp and monkfish
Salmon ahumado Smoked salmon
Pimientos y cebolla Peppers and onions
Bacalao con salsa de chipirones Cod with squid sauce
Sesos de cordero Sheep brains
Trufas Truffles
Chorizo Spanish chorizo sausage

Now you know and you’ll remember this, right?