Who to believe?

I mostly had to do holiday stuff for last 10 days or so and so didn’t have much time for my project but I’m slowly getting back into it. When I last left you, Dear Reader, I was describing how I was mining an online dictionary (not translation, but actual dictionary) from a site in Spain. In previous versions of this project I ran into problems with just grabbing “spanish” from somewhere in the Net since these could be regional terms (most often for Latin America) and they may not exist, or worse, have a different meaning in Spain. As I’ve plowed through more of the dictionary I’m not answering that question as: a) I’ve found terms that clearly would not be used in Spain, and, b) terms that are used in Spain and not elsewhere (like types of cheeses or cured meats).

So am I extracting information that is useful for Spain or not? I suppose, as long as there are not contradictions it doesn’t matter. If I build a vocabulary list, either as “book” or as an app for my phone having terms that would never occur in Spain just waste time but don’t cause confusion. In fact, in some cases I at least get clues about something in Spain from some information about that term in usage in some other country.

But what about contradictions.

While I’ve been mostly churning through online electronic materials I did collect a number of cookbooks, specially for Spain. While sitting through boring holiday events I began to glance through these. One in particular, The Cuisine of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking by Teresa Bartenechea is very interesting and seems to me to be very credible. But any cookbook is still seen through the eyes of that author and may not agree with other sources.

So I was just looking at the word coca (get your mind out of the gutter, this is a cooking term not a street drug):

COCA (literally sponge cake) Torta, por lo general dulce, a base de masa de leche, harina, huevos y azúcar, a la que según fecha y lugar se le incorporan diversos ingredientes. Cake, usually sweet, based on mass of milk, flour, eggs and sugar, to which according to date and place various ingredients are incorporated.

In the translation dictionary lookup (spanishdict.com) sponge cake is the applicable translation. The definition (from GallinaBlanca) in Spanish and then spanishdict.com’s translation seems consistent with this. But a reverse lookup for sponge cake is bizcocho so I thought perhaps coca is some shortened version of this. So I looked it up in Teresa’s cookbook.

She has something entirely different (p.140) – Crusty Flatbread (Balearic Islands and Catalonia (also known coques)). Since I just made focaccia for one of our parties I recognize the recipe and preparation technique. Furthermore on following pages there are several other recipes with coca as part of the title that look very much like pizza (or at least kicked-up flatbreads). None of these are sweet and none even vaguely resemble sponge cake.

So what’s the answer? Well, I still don’t know and I’m not quite sure how to find out (‘coca’ is not a very good search term since it gets mostly irrelevant results). I suppose, given the way menus in Spain are typically organized I could disambiguate if coca appears under postres (as the GallinaBlanca definition) or elsewhere (as Teresa’s definition). Or get more cookbooks.

But remember an old joke. A man with one watch knows what time it is, a man with two watches is never sure. I.E. more data, especially from the Net, may make matters worse.


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