Adventure in menu and receta

As I’ve mentioned I’m doing a “virtual” trek of the Camino by converting the miles I do on a treadmill in my basement to locations along the Camino (I found a detailed GPS track). It would be way more fun to be walking the real Camino but this is better than nothing, especially as the Google cars cover most of the route (or nearby) and so I can use StreetView to “see” my surroundings. Plus for restaurants in the towns usually there are many photos and sometimes websites with menus.

My progress in this virtual walk is much slower than I’d have to do (and could do) on a real walk but it’s fairly steady. So a few days ago I passed through Logroño and found as many online menus as I could (saved the URLs for later). Meanwhile the recipe dictionary I’ve been studying has taken most of my time. But my trek continues and I’m at the edge of Navarrete so I thought I should at least dig through one of the menus from Logroño.

So I’ve been looking at Tondeluna’s website. The carta actually has English translations BUT, unfortunately that document is in the form of a PDF that is locked and so I can’t extract any text from it to create my corpus entries. I’m not going to try to type it into my corpus because I’ll make too many mistakes and create bad data. But, the group menu, also a PDF, does permit me to extract its text but it has no translations so I have to do all the tedious manual mouse work to finally get side-by-side Spanish and English.

Right away I encountered this:

COCINA CLÁSICA PARA PICAR  AL CENTRO Y SEGUNDOS INDIVIDUALES Classic kitchen for center-chopping and individual seconds

Now “center-chopping” is one of those translations that immediately catches my attention (as wrong, even often silly) so I tried to figure it out. Starting with picar whose first couple of translations (sting, bite, peck at) don’t make a lot of sense I realized I’ve seen this before and the more useful translation (way down in spanishdict’s list) is the colloquial meaning (nibble on or snack). But what has centro got to do with it? Seeing that in addition to the obvious cognate of center ‘middle’ is another translation, and, I realized this must have something to do with putting (what is the starters and appetizers of this menu) in the middle of the table for all the diners to snack on. Then segundos individuales implies that those plates are then served to each individual.

In trying to figure this out my various searches (about how meals get served in restaurants) didn’t directly answer my question but one article had a somewhat different description of ración than what I’d previously found.  [btw: That article has lots of interesting information about restaurant meals] They claimed that unlike how it sounds ración is too large for one person and so it is typically shared and, of course obviously, it would probably be placed in the middle of the table to be shared. OK, fine, but I still can’t quite decide how to interpret these entries (and haven’t found anything online to explain)

LAS CROQUETAS que mi madre Marisa, nos enseñó a hacer (al centro 2 unidades por persona) The croquettes that my mother Marisa, taught us to do (to the center 2 units per person)
LA ENSALADILLA RUSA de Tondeluna con mahonesa aireada (1×3 al centro) The Russian salad of Tondeluna with aerated mayonnaise (1×3 to the center)

It’s this bit, (al centro 2 unidades por persona), that makes some sense. The ración will include two croquetas per person on a big serving platter in al centro (this is just for pricing, so person could eat one and another eats three, or whatever). But what about (1×3 al centro)? Given this is salad, not a discrete item like a croqueta what are they saying about how much is included in the ración? Is is one “serving” for every three people or three servings per person or what? The other ENTRANTES FRÍOS on Menu1 (25€, the cheapest of the five different group menus) is

TARTAR ALIÑADO DE SALMÓN aliñado con lima y alga wakame (1×3 al centro) Seasoned tartare of salmon with lime and wakame seaweed (1×3 to the center)

and that is no more illuminating on this point. Scanning further in the more expensive menus reveals:

CARPACCIO DE GAMBA sobre tartar de tomate, dátiles, cebollino y ajo blanco (1×4 al centro) Prawn CARPACCIO on tomato tartare, dates, chives and white garlic (1×4 to the center)

so clearly this 1xN is some kind of notation indicating quantity that is put on the serving platter in the middle of the table, but I don’t get it. It doesn’t much matter to me since I wouldn’t be in the restaurant with a group so I’d just be ordering off the carta (which I can read online, some good items, but can’t (easily) add to my corpus).

Moving on this work led off in a different direction. One item on the group menu

SAN JACOBO DE LENGUA  y queso de Cameros y salsa de champiñones (1/2 individual) SAN JACOBO de LENGUA y queso de cameros and mushroom sauce (1/2 individual)

It’s surprising to me that queso didn’t get the obvious literal translation so chasing down queso de cameros was my first quest which had a simple reference (a goat cheese originating in the Sierra de los Cameros in La Rioja) which makes sense given this is a restaurant in La Rioja. It wasn’t hard to get the literal of lengua (tongue) but otherwise this dish remained mostly a mystery. But as I’ve found before it’s likely the San Jacobo qualifier would lead to a fairly specific dish in a search and it did. There are photos and multiple links to recipes so I chose to look at this recipe.

Long story short I went through all the actual cooking instructions (not sure why but called Elaboración on this webpage) doing my side-by-side (Google translation) and then analyzing the entries. This one caught my attention:

Emplata a tu gusto los san jacobos con la ensalada y sirve . Emplata to your taste the san jacobos with the salad and serves.

Google couldn’t figure out emplata nor could spanishdict but interestingly wiktionary had an entry that made total sense (in the context of this step of the recipe) – to plate. So I realized I’d found a “cooking” verb I hadn’t encountered before (I have a running list of these). So I decided to find all the verbs in all the steps of the recipe and ended up with several new ones for my list (in some cases it’s the meaning, in this context, that is new as the verb had appeared before in some other sense). So just from this one recipe I found all these:

añadir to add
cocinar to cook
condimentar to season
cotar to cut
cubrir to cover
dejar to leave or let
desgranar to shell
emplatar to plate
enfriar to cool
escurrir to drain
freír to fry
introducer to insert
mezclar to mix
pasar to pass
pelar to peel
poner to put or add
repitir to repeat
servir to serve
subir to rise
trocear to cut up

Pretty nifty, eh, plus some practice reading Spanish. I know that repetition is key to learning a language so every time I go off on one of these digressions a bit more sinks it each time.

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