Santiago’s Restaurant Menus – 2

Unfortunately I don’t have time today for a full explanation of another menu so I’ll just get started. In case a reader might wish to explore some of this material for themselves let me explain how I’m finding restaurants.

For small towns along the Camino it was easy. The Google Maps, either map view or sat photo view, did a good job of showing any food establishment (including bakeries or grocery stores or wineries and such). Clicking on those brings up, usually, lots of photos to examine and sometimes a website.

But for a thorough examination of a city as large as Santiago (with 571 restaurants in one rating system) something more efficient is needed. I found the TripAdvisor website to be quite useful. I’m not endorsing their reviews or ratings per se, but it’s an easy source to study. So, simply, I make my own list in three columns: ranking, restaurant name (scraped off the TripAdvisor page for that restaurant) and then my evaluation of whether there is more information, or in my main priority, either a website with menus or sometimes just the menu link. Let me say, as little as any of these establishments would care, forget silly Facebook pages and get a real website. Maybe you think the world gets all its information from Facebook but I believe a better website would bring you more business. Nothing wrong with a Facebook presence, just don’t make it the only way people find about you. AND, even if it’s just a sample put some menu on your site. Glossary photos and flowery prose doesn’t sell on choosing your establishment but a menu might.

All that said let’s just start on today’s restaurant, one that has dual language on the website, descriptive prose about the restaurant’s culinary philosophy and a helpful menu. I’m talking about Malak Bistro. The homepage seems to be in English but there is a clickable toggle to Spanish.

There is some prose on the page that makes for interesting reading. As usual here’s the three columns: Spanish, their human translation and Google Translate.

Comida Exótica Vegetariana y Vegana Exotic Vegetarian Vegan Food Vegetarian and Vegan Exotic Food
Saludable Flexitariano Healthy Flexitarian Healthy Flexitarian

Now both the description and menu are interesting, but actually this wouldn’t be one of my top choices. That said, my purpose is not merely to study food terms for what I like but to get a complete sample for what might be encountered in Spain so I’m glad to see something different. And I’d be happy to go here with people I know who might make this their first choice.

Now let me just start with their first paragraph of prose.

Situado en la capital de Galicia, el Malak Bistro es un punto de encuentro para los peregrinos que llegan a Santiago de Compostela buscando degustar los sabores de la comida Exotica Vegetariana Vegana & Saludable Flexitariano .

Con ingredientes de primera calidad de origen gallego, los comensales pueden disfrutar de platos típicos de la gastronomía nacional.

Located in the Galician capital, Malak Bistro is a meeting point for the pilgrims that come to Santiago de Compostela and want to taste the Exotic Vegetarian Vegan & Healthy Flexitarian flavours.

The clients can enjoy typical dishes of the International gastronomy, cooked with Premium quality ingredients from Galician origins.

Located in the capital of Galicia, the Malak Bistro is a meeting point for pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela looking to taste the flavors of Vegan and Healthy Flexitarian Vegetarian Exotic food.

With top quality ingredients of Galician origin, diners can enjoy typical dishes of the national cuisine.

Part of what I decided to do as part of my attempt to actually learn Spanish was to supplement what Duolingo provides with my attempts are translation. It was particularly helpful (and interesting) to have human translation as well as the Google Translation. Translation involves choices that goes beyond just “paraphrasing” the original language material (rather than purely literal) but also I found deviating quite a bit from the Spanish (as best I could read it). This poses an additional challenge to anyone trying to use a corpus approach to “train” a translation app, but it presents an interesting teaching experience.

Looking at the words in the first sentence that I marked I spot something unexpected. The Google Translation is more “accurate” (not just crudely literal as it often is). Since I’ve had the verbs llegar (to arrive) and buscar (to look for) in my Duolingo learning I do believe GT is actually more accurate. Now while translation can often have nuance and verbs often have many translations depending on context, these two verbs are fairly clear. In the second sentence there is no way ‘international’ is an accurate translation of nacional BUT I’ll agree, given the cuisine of this restaurant it can be descriptive.

As further indication consider this paragraph again marked.

A través de los aromas de la canela, la pimienta negra, el perejil, la cúrcuma, el curry o el tomillo,

nuestros clientes descubrirán los sabores de la gastronomía de oriente medio. Platos con mucha tradición que se construyen sobre ingredientes como: Verduras, garbanzos, arroz, carne o cuscús.

In our kitchen we use spices like: cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, turmeric, curry or thyme.

We prepare middle eastern recipes, most of them cooked with vegetables, chickpea, rice, meat or couscous.

Through the aromas of cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, turmeric, curry or thyme,

our customers will discover the flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine. Dishes with a lot of tradition that are built on ingredients such as: Vegetables, chickpeas, rice, meat or couscous.

See ‘cumin’ in the human translation (middle column). That’s nowhere to be found in the Spanish AND there is a Spanish equivalent of ‘cumin’ which is comino. Now given cumin is a word of Middle Eastern origin you might think comino is just a corruption of the original word but after all the word also appears in Latin as cuminum and as Spanish originated with vulgar Latin comino makes sense. (btw: ‘vulgar’ in this context simply refers to language in common use versus more proper “academic” use)

So, combined with the fact the default language of the website appears to be English I would suspect: a) the original material was written in English and translated to Spanish, or, b) perhaps, both English and Spanish are written separately (possibly by different people) and not strictly translations. Another hypothesis that might be more likely is that the “original” menu is not in either English or Spanish and both are translations.

So keep something like this in mind when you try to use your phone to read menus.

Now just one item from the menu to further amplify my deduction. And, btw, it was a challenge to create my side-by-side worksheet since the menu items aren’t in the same order on the Spanish and English versions of the menu. No diner would care about this but it makes for an interesting challenge to do what I’m doing and ALSO means automatic corpus extraction would fail.

ENSALADA FATOUSH
(Exotic Siria) Tomate, Lechuga mix, cebolla, pepino, rábano, limón, pan tostado, sumaque. (Vegano)
FATOUSH
Exotic Siria – Tomato, cucumber, mix lettuce, onion, radish, lemon, toast Pita, sumaque. (Vegan)
FATOUSH SALAD(Exotic Syria) Tomato, lettuce mix, onion, cucumber, radish, lemon, toast, sumaque. (Vegan)

Looking at the ingredients in both human and Google translation you’ll note the items are not in the same order, though it is the same list. Now this would be a problem for me, if I were composing a corpus of matching pairs (using human translation) but interesting using the Google translation would lead to matching pairs, e.g. (cebollo=onion), (pepino=cucumber) and so forth.

I’ll finish extracting and analyzing this menu to see if there is anything else worth noting in another post.