It’s that tx- thing again

Yesterday while in a waiting room I was reading a UK article (found in search about names of cuts of meat in Spain) about “old” beef. I thought I recalled the term they used and, yes, I’d attempted to figure out what TXULETÓN DE BUEY was on a menu. My only hit on searches led me to the idea this might be a brand name from a famous meat supplier TXULETA.  I’d previously tracked down Alcachofas de Tudela  (Tudela artichokes) and learned Tudela is just the second largest town in Navarra and near growing areas of artichokes and other vegetables. For instance, a common dish is Cogollos de Tudela which is that same sense of Tudela (as a place) but cogollos was a bit curious given literal definition as shoots or sprouts or buds. But then I noticed in the sense of a leafy vegetable it means ‘heart’. If you Google search for Cogollos de Tudela and look at images it is easy to see what this means – the inner leaves of a head lettuce that looks a lot like romaine (apparently it’s different but well-known in Spain and merely referred to as Tudela). Note: As a menu item it is often served with anchovies and dressed with olive oil.

So the point of all this is one challenge deciphering menus in Spain will be using terms that aren’t going to be in any dictionary (or smartphone app) and aren’t going to have any obvious meaning even if you learn Tudela is a city in Spain and therefore in some sense a Spanish word (proper noun) but unlikely to have any translation. These are just names or perhaps brand names (GallinaBlanca doesn’t mean white hen in a menu item but some product from that company)  that would be known in Spain, and, possibly something you can find with a search for the whole phrase, but basically a bit tricky to figure out. Again, given you had conversational skill in Spanish you could just ask your server but if you don’t have Spanish fluency you need a quick answer (which eventually my app will supply).

So back to TXULETÓN DE BUEY.  buey literally translates as ox but really it has the same basic definition as steer in the U.S., in other word ‘beef’ even though ‘de vaca‘ is less ambiguous term for ‘beef’.  BTW: ‘de res‘ is also found in dictionaries as ‘beef’ but that almost certainly for Mexico not Spain. So far so good. I should have noticed, in other menus, seeing CHULETÓN, including with DE BUEY qualifier. Notice the pattern?

So, duh. This is Navarra, i.e. heavily Basque influenced and euskara which often uses tx- at beginning of words AND, as I more recently learned, is pronounced ch! IOW, TXULETÓN is exactly the same as CHULETÓN, which I’ll get to in my cuts of meat part 2 post, but from this post it’s just a large steak (roughly equivalent to T-bone) often for two people.

So that answers that question but what about the clue I thought I saw that this was just a brand name from TXULETA meat company? In working on my part 2 post I was trying to figure out the difference between chuletón and chuleta (literally chop, cutlet) and bam, the light went on, the Spanish meat company is merely Chop meat company.

So, at least in the northern parts of Spain where multiple non-Spanish languages may be in common use and thus on menus deciphering the menu may be a challenging task. And then, as well, the same Spanish word in Spain doesn’t mean the same as it might in Mexico or Argentina so good luck with that part as well.

To get a really good vocabulary (to power a translation app) for Spain is going to have to deal with all this complexity. Thus far I’ve never seen any source that does that, although some cookbooks at least explain some of this. If you’re walking the Camino you’ll have time to absorb all this but if you’re blasting around in a car, crossing Spain in a couple of days, say from Barcelona to Santiago, you’d have some real fun stopping at restaurants where the terminology (or meaning of terms) changes in short distances.


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