A circuitous route to the right answer?

I was doing my usual process of researching entries in the GallinaBlanca diccionario. For a word, get their definition in Spanish, translate to English via spanishdict.com, translate the term itself to see if there is simple literal translation. Then consider the result and see if this makes sense or whether I need to do further searches (and then with what search terms) to figure this term out, at least the way the author of GB diccionario meant.

I was starting with Q words and the first was quark. Right away I knew these would be a problem in my approach since ‘quark’ is a word in English and thus spanishdict would be looking for the equivalent Spanish term. But looking at the definition and translation

QUARK Es el queso no madurado ni escaldado, alto en humedad, de textura blanda o suave, preparado con leche descremada y concentrada, cuajada con enzimas y/o por cultivos lácticos y separados mecánicamente del suero, cuyo contenido de grasa láctica es variable, dependiendo si se agrega crema o no durante su elaboració It is the unripened or scalded cheese, high in moisture, soft or soft texture, prepared with skim milk and concentrated, curdled with enzymes and/or by lactic cultures and mechanically separated from the serum, whose lactic fat content is variable, depending on whether Cream is added or not during your Elaboració

I tried search terms ‘quark cheese’ which then quickly disclosed this article in Wikipedia and the translated definition and the article align nicely to strongly suggest this is it. I’m sorta a foodie and know cheese reasonably well but I’d never heard of this (it’s close, but still a bit than ricotta than is made in a similar fashion). But what was interesting is that the Wikipedia article mentions this:

Quark is similar to French fromage blanc, Indian paneer, and the queso fresco/queijo fresco made in the Iberian Peninsula and in some Latin American countries.

That peaked my interest in that I’m quite familiar with queso fresco so I assumed queijo fresco might be the version in Spain instead of the more familiar Latin American name (wrong, now, I think, that was probably the Portuguese name given it too is on the Iberian peninsula – shouldn’t jump to conclusions). But no harm, no foul, this article popped up in response to search for queijo fresco. So I’d say queso blanco is the closest equivalent to quark for Spain. So strange, a dictionary for use in Spain has the English name instead of the Iberian name (nowhere in this dictionary). I guess the point is that Iberian cooks would already know queso blanco but never heard of quark and so this dictionary is explaining the foreign term rather than the domestic one (why then, with this idea, didn’t they just define quark as queso blanco? This dictionary has a large number of terms that are not Spanish (or at most Spanish cognates to words that originated in another language). Why? As I’ve found more and more of this I’ve wondered and decided it’s an aid to Spanish cooks (given this dictionary is tied to a large list of recipes) in case they encounter the foreign term.

So done with that term right away I hit another interesting term to run down. Here’s the GallinaBlanca definition and spanishdict translation:

QUEBRADA Masa quebrada o brisé. Una masa para tartas saladas o dulces. Las proporciones son mitad de mantequilla y doble de harina. Broken mass or brisé. A dough for salty or sweet tarts. The proportions are half of butter and double of flour.

Looking up quebrada for a literal translation spanishdict suggested trying quebrado instead. This is common since it’s the gender thing in adjectives and usually the dictionary contains the masculine (‘o’ instead of ‘a’) form. quebrado has meaning translations none of which seemed to have any connection (didn’t key on ‘broken’ or lookup brisé and I might have gotten to the answer sooner). So I did a search just for quebrada and got nothing that had any connection. So looking at the definition I decided to add ‘dough’ to the search and then got something that at least made some sense, this article,  which is about gordita, but has this bit

An old variant of corn gorditas uses masa quebrada (broken dough) where the corn meal is coarsely ground, leaving bits of broken grain.

I was happy to see quebrada (turns out spanishdict’s suggestion was right, I should have noticed ‘broken’ as a translation of quebrado). BUT, I thought a gordita is: a) a lot different than the definition GallinaBlanca provided, and, b) this is Latin American, not Spain, and while the GB dictionary has had other terms that don’t seem to be used in Spain I always try to figure out if the Spain term is different (as in the notorious example of tortilla, entirely different between anywhere in western hemisphere (given tortilla is now fully a loanword into U.S. English) and Spain).

So I did a search for masa quebrada and I got one of those strange connections between Google search and Wikipedia I’ve mentioned before. Nowhere in the displayed text for the article that came up is either masa or quebrada, but somehow Google connected this too. For this example it’s good it did as ‘shortcrust pastry’ is a much closer match to the GB definition, especially this bit:

It is based on a “half-fat-to-flour” ratio (twice as much flour as fat by weight).

And then there is this bit, pâte brisée is mentioned as one of the types of shortcrust pastry (a bit different flour/fat ratio) and that triggered my connection to the untranslated term in the GB definition, brisé (which is in none of the dictionary, including the authoritative one for the Spanish language (Diccionario de la lengua Española from Real Academia Española) but the similarity might just mean it really is supposed to be the French word and they misspelled it (who knows). I call this closing the loop.

So I believe that quebrada is shortcrust pastry, but in fact quebrado is a better choice since it does have broken (and no more) as its definition where quebrada doesn’t. But perhaps dough is thought of as feminine and hence ‘a’ was used despite then conflicting with another literal lookup. I assume the author and perhaps people reading this dictionary would know that but it’s quite a bit of investigation for me. And I’m fairly sure this is not related to a gordita which provided the clue for subsequent search to the right answer.

Now I suspect this term is unlikely to appear on a menu and instead one of the 87 recetas at GallinaBlanca use it as an ingredient and those names might be on a menu. But some menus have descriptions of an item and so it’s possible quebrada might be something a traveler would want to know and not spend nearly half an hour, as I did, figuring this out.

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