Short About: I am retired hombre stuck in the middle of the USA (Nebraska). I’ve traveled to a number of countries, where I knew none of the language, but never Spain (I did see it from a distance while in Portugal). I got fascinated with the country and culture by watching the movie The Way (great movie, IMHO) and now would love to go there and, ideally, walk a fair portion of the Camino. So, for fun, I started a personal project to study menus in Spain with the long-term goal of building a translation application, focused on food, for a smartphone. So in this blog I relate some stories of what I found that was interesting on menus. After ten months of doing that I also finally decided to learn Spanish. I had tried a few times before, without any success, but this time I’m doing better. Reading menus and speaking Spanish are too different things so I’m still mostly going to write posts about menus and food in Spain.
Update: After focusing on Spain for several years I also ended up interesting in the same process for menus in Mexico since my Zoom Spanish teacher from Cuernavaca gave me some good hints about looking for food adventures in Mexico.
What is YoTraduzcoComida?
I’ll repeat my first blog post as a reasonably good (for now) About:
I’m using this blog to document my progress and explain amusing (at least to me) challenges I’ve found to creating an easy-to-use, yet comprehensive vocabulary of what one would find on menus in restaurants in Spain. Once I’ve compiled my glossary/dictionary/phrasebook I’ll publish it, at least on the web, perhaps as an Android app, and perhaps as some self-published eBook. But for now this will be the story of how I reach that final goal. The individual posts will tell the story of some of the more challenging translation issues with actual examples.
For me to attempt this is truly audacious, which at least one dictionary defines as ‘intrepidly daring‘, which this project will certainly be. Why? Well, first I speak only a few words of Spanish and actually little else than English. Second, I live a long way from Spain (or even any Spanish restaurants) here in the midwest; in fact, I’ve never even been to Spain (although I could see it from my visit to Portugal). And, third, I know little about Spanish cuisine (but hope to learn much more via this effort), or really cuisine in general, even though I’m a decent cook (definitely not chef). That is a bunch of strikes against me succeeding with creating anything but a mess.
But I think I can do it. In a separate post (to keep this one somewhat brief) I’ll explain the numerous attempts I’ve made over the years (and with better methodology and technology to help) to assemble food glossaries for languages I don’t know. I made my first attempt long before general public access to the Internet but I did have a computer and a few books. My attempts improved each time but the results didn’t – largely because more isn’t better if it isn’t well-organized. And access to more sources just means more wrong information from other people to edit, along with good information. Also ‘more’ doesn’t fit on a one-page cheat sheet I could carry in my wallet and thus actually use in a restaurant. But alas, technology to the rescue there as well as I do carry electronic assistants into restaurants so at least I have a practical delivery vehicle for my final result. And of the various attempts I’ve made Spanish is particularly intriguing due to some unusual issues attempting to build a translation to English.
And, besides, maybe if I finally get this done right I will actually get moving on an actual culinary trip to Spain and that should be a good incentive to keep grinding on, with this blog to remind me to get some work done.
Short posts are a contradiction for me as I tend to go on and on but a blog does provide a way to break up a 30 minute monologue (for me, short) into more manageable segments so I’ll finish this introductory post and then move on to several ideas I could have included here, but for the sake of brevity I’ll do as successor posts: 1) my history and now “final” technique for assembling this list, 2) an example of the challenges of “literal” translation, which is about all you’ll get from a voice assistant on your phone or web translations, and, 3) the challenges of Spanish food vocabulary which turn out to be more than other countries/languages, and, 4) a bit more about my methodology.
Along the way I’ll enhance this site with some additional pages, primarily of resources (like glossaries other people have assembled or general descriptions of Spanish cuisine or lists of my cookbooks, or whatever) and links to some of the restaurants I’m using as the raw material in my research.
So I hope, Dear Reader, you’ll be interested in following this process but also to understand how this list was finally assembled and how much you can trust it.