I’ll explain what “finished” means in a minute but first I am almost at another milestone in my journey, so 1/2 mile outside Nájera, about 20 miles from Logroño and about 60 miles to reach Burgos, on my virtual camino trek. That is since I’m stuck here in the cold midwest USA I do miles on my treadmill in the basement (training for the Camino, I wish!!!) and translate those boring miles onto a GPS track of the Camino de Santiago and then, most of the time, do a little “walking” courtesy of Google StreetView (the Camino is hardly a wilderness trail if a Google car is driving on it).
Needless to say this is big-time tedious (and slow) and that’s what I’ve finished. It may be tedious but going slowly through the list means I take the time to study each result. Often even from the English translation of the definition of the term I really don’t know what the English word would be, which makes that lookup sometimes a surprise. Since this is a specialized vocabulary for cooking many of the terms are more obscure and thus missing in dictionary lookups so it’s off to doing searching and guessing and trial-and-error until I get a reasonable answer. Lots of work but a good learning experience.
So now I have that “done” (probably a few mistakes I’ll have to clean up). So I have pages of stuff like this:
|HERVIR (literally boil)
||Cocer en líquido a una temperatura de 100º.
||Cook in liquid at a temperature of 100 º.
|HORNEAR (literally bake)
||Cocer en el horno mediante calor seco.
||Cook in the oven with dry heat.
|HUMEAR (literally smoke or steam, and one sense is exactly this definition? ahumar is the culinary verb)
||Se dice cuando el aceite desprende humo, indicando que está caliente, a punto.
||It is said when the oil emits smoke, indicating that it is hot, ready.
|INCORPORAR (literally incorporate, add, include and mix in)
||Agregar, unir algo a otra cosa para que haga un todo con ella.
||Add, join something else to do a whole thing with it.
|INSTILAR (literally instill)
||Echar poco a poco, gota a gota, un líquido en otra cosa.
||Slowly pouring, drop by drop, a liquid into something else.
|LAMINAR (literally laminate)
||Cortar en láminas muy finas.
||Cut into very thin slices.
So what am I going to do with this now?
I deliberately picked a chunk of the dictionary that is all verbs because that’s my first attempt to create something derived from this list. There are a lot of verbs in this dictionary because it accompanies recetas (recipes) and these verbs (in some conjugated form) probably occur in the collection of all those recetas. So GallinaBlanca is nicely helping cooks read recetas that might contain a verb they don’t know. There are some fairly obscure verbs in the list.
Now what has this got to do with reading menus which is the focus of my project. Rarely are the menus (at least the list of items you can order) going to have complete sentences explaining the food (perhaps a brief, just a phrase, description). So verbs don’t much matter.
Or do they? A word you will frequently see on menus (even in name of restaurants) is asado. This is grilled or roasted (as an adjective perhaps modifying some noun) or even just a noun in its own right, grill or roast. But this word has its root in a verb, that is asar (in the infinitive form, i.e. the typical word to lookup in a dictionary (Note: Online dictionaries are often smart enough to handle conjugated forms but typical non-interactive dictionaries (paper or smartphone) require you to see this is a conjugation of a verb and deduce the infinitive form to do the lookup – not easy if you’re unfamiliar with Spanish). asado is the past participle of asar and as Spanish verbs are far more regular (some exceptions) than English this is almost an algorithmic rule to form past participle from infinitive very (like to baked and baked as a regular case in English). So in a quick extract from my list here are a couple more examples: hervir (to boil) hervido (boiled), estofar (to stew) estofado (stewed), picar (to mince or chop) picado (minced).
So knowing some cooking verbs could come in handy. Memorizing them all is probably a waste of time but as I intend to collect everything I’ll need this in my smart app that is going to translate menus (having all the conjugations is then easy as well).
But I don’t like to depend on a single source for literal translation (each verb to its most direct English equivalent). Plus some verbs have a ton of different meanings and they are not always labeled as being the culinary sense in every dictionary. And some verbs don’t have much connection, given GallinaBlanca’s definition to the standard (at least online) dictionary definitions. For instance, this tough one to figure out:
|ALBARDAR (literally: to saddle, put a packsaddle on)
||Envolver piezas de carne con lonchas finas de tocino, para evitar que se sequen al cocinarlas.
||Wrap pieces of meat with thin slices of bacon to avoid drying when cooking.
I suppose one might deduce that wrapping meat with bacon is “saddling” it, but really the clue comes from this:
Saddle is a butchery term that refers to the meat that is at the animal’s back and hips. Think of it in terms of the meat that would be in more or less the same place as a saddle on a horse.
I’ve done a fair amount of cooking (and reading cookbooks) and ‘saddle’ as a cut of meat never registered. Or what about this one:
|CINCELAR (literally chisel, carve, engrave)
||Hacer incisiones en una pieza (se utiliza sobre todo para pescados) para facilitar su proceso de cocción, generalmente en los asados.
||Make incisions in one piece (mainly used for fish) to facilitate their cooking process, usually in roasts.
I’ve done exactly this cooking fish (and more so bread) but I don’t think I’d use any of those literal English verb equivalents to describe the process.
So there is a lot of learn from these verbs. And as I said I don’t like single sources so I sometimes use a page here in this blog (test data) to paste some Spanish in, view that page, and then fire up Google Translate (maybe there is some simpler way but this works without too much hassle).
Now what I’ve read about Google Translate context matters. So a pure list of verbs, especially in infinitive form eliminates any possibility of a contextual AI-ish translation and thus is just a simple literal translation. For verbs with many meanings there is nothing to clue Google about which one to use.
So it was interesting to see how Google did on this translation. I found a total of 132 verbs in GallinaBlanca dictionary. Of these the following 44 had no Google translation:
ABARQUILLAR, ACARAMELAR, ACHICHARRAR, ACIDELAR, ALBARDAR, ALIÑAR, ALMIBARAR, ANISAR, ASAR, ATAR, BATIR, BRASEAR, CASCAR, CATAR, CHAFAR, CONFITAR, DECORAR, DESBABAR, DESBARDAR, DESCAMAR, DESLEÍR, DESMIGRAR, EMBORRACHAR, EMBRIDAR, ENHARINAR, ESCABECHAR, ESCALFAR, ESCAMAR, ESPECIAR, GUISAR, LAMINAR, LEVAR, MAJAR, MOREAR, NAPAR, PICAR, PINCHAR, POCHEAR, REBOZAR, REHOGAR, REMOVER, ROSTIR, TRUFAR, VOILER
Now Google can be forgiven (except it claims it’s AI does better than rule-based literal translation) for the verbs in RED since none of my dictionaries know what these are. For instance I actually think acidelar is just a typo since the definition GB gives it “Put lemon juice or vinegar in the water to cook poached eggs or vegetables, so that they do not blackened. ” is fairly similar for the known acidular whose definition is “Sprinkle with an acidic liquid fruit, vegetables or vegetables so that they retain their whiteness or colour.” But the definitions are not exactly the same and for me to declare acidelar to be a mistake is premature; after all it could be some alternate spelling or perhaps a regional difference from the standard dictionary Spainish, or, worse, it might be the spelling used in Spain versus what is used elsewhere. I simply do not have enough data to decide.
So what about something like
|MOREAR (not in any dictionary)
||Dar vuelta sobre el fuego bajo y con un poco de aceite en un sartén o cacerola a los alimentos, para que tomen color antes de añadirle salsa o caldo.
||Turn over the low heat and with a little oil in a frying pan or pan to the food, so that they take color before adding sauce or broth.
This comes up blank in all dictionaries and most web searches I’ve tried. So the question is do I believe this is even a word (or perhaps it’s from some other language used in Spain). It certainly sounds like sauté (cooking technique) but that is saltear GB defines as “Stir the food in butter or hot oil when frying in an uncovered skillet.”
Now for the words not in RED I did find literal translations of them including ASAR which I find surprising that Google doesn’t know (this, as you recall, is the verb I used as example above to explain why I’m investigating verb, i.e. it is the infinitive root for asado, a very common word on menus). And I’m also surprised it didn’t know GUISAR (cook, stew; cook up) since I can recall from memory seeing that and especially its past participle guisado (refers, as a noun, to casserole, stew, or, most generically, dish) and as an adjective as stewed. And I’ve seen rebozado (covered in batter or breadcrumbs) on numerous menus and it’s the past participle of REBOZAR (to coat in batter or breadcrumbs) that Google didn’t know. Now, OTOH, TRUFAR (try to guess before reading the translation) is probably sufficiently obscure Google may not have seen this but given the price of the item for this word you’d want to know what it means if you saw it on a mean (it means, to stuff with truffles).
Now as the other verbs which Google did have some translation I’m going through a somewhat tedious process of digging out (again, but this time in a single consistent process) the literal translations so I can compare Google to other sources. And sources are going to matter. Not only is it hard to say with absolute certainty what an appropriate translation is going to be (I believe even fluent Spanish speaking authorities might debate some verbs) I need to do this comparison of various sources in a systematic way, not believing one source over another until I can potentially “confirm” a translation via some processing of a large corpus of translated food related material, IOW, exactly what I’m building up now.
For the verbs Google did translate here are a few of the issues I’ve found thus far (not done with this analysis):
- Often Google chooses the present participle as the translation instead of the infinitive, e.g. ADOBAR, Google says marinating instead of to marinate, not a big deal overall but this might get into a corpus and create a statistical flaw later in the analysis.
- For AVIAR Google picked the most literal, namely an adjective ‘avian’ rather than to prepare as the root verb (multiple meanings, this one matches the GB definition, “Prepare birds for cooking. It consists of all pre-elaborations that must be made to a piece: cleaning, flamed, wicking, flanged, etc.” Note: That GB has defined this in more specific way than spanishdict.com did and given the Latin root for both the verb and the adjective the GB definition is definitely superior (plus being more useful to understand in the context of cooking).
- Picking one of several literal translations, but not in the culinary sense (which I do, looking at spanishdict.com because I know culinary is the context), e.g. BRIDAR which Google translates as ‘bridle’ (literally OK), but to tie or truss is much more useful in cooking sense.
- Or something like DESPLUMAR, which Google picks the present participle Fleecing, which is a plausible translation. But the GB definition is “Remove the feathers from the bird.” which comes closer to an alternate definition, ‘to pluck’. Amazingly using fleecing is a colloquial usage somewhat like English where someone is taken advantage of and thus “fleeced”.
I’m sure there will be more as I finish grinding through but this post, already TMI, hopefully gives a sense of how I’m post-processing the pure mechanical part of my study to pound the raw data into a more usable form to then create my corpus (all preliminary to creating my AI-ish smart menu translator).