Still moving, even if slowly

May and June have had a lot of deviations, for me, from my daily routine. As a consequence I haven’t done much work on this project nor much in terms of my virtual trek. I’m using a GPS trace of the Camino de Santiago to map my workouts on a stationary treadmill in the basement, as an incentive to keep up my miles. With the interference I’ve had in the last two months I’ve fallen quite a bit.

For the first five months of my virtual trek I average about 25.5 miles/month. Not much when compared to an actual trek (typical distance of 1.5-2 days). But I’ve also averaged 537 miles/month on a stationary bike so overall my exercise is fairly high. However during May-June I’ve only averaged about 14 miles/month, more due to missing days than shorter days. Hopefully I’ll get back on track.

But all this has brought me, as of yesterday, 208.1 miles on my virtual Camino, which is probably more than most do on the real pilgrimage which is now mostly tourists joining the fad on short guided trips. So where does that put me?  Just a bit beyond Castrojeriz, still in Burgos Province in the autonomous community of Castile and León. Actually Castrojeriz is the biggest town I’ve passed through in some time and there are enough tourist/pilgrim accommodations to “visit” numerous albergues and restaurants, one of which has an online menu.

So that means I get to look at another menu for any interesting details beyond the simple (nearly-)literal translation Google does for webpages. (Google claims to be context-oriented but I think that’s an overblown claim as I’ve previously documented in older posts). Reading menus (with some smartphone app) is the long-range goal of my project and finding menus (critical from Spain, not just in Spanish) and translating them and researching eccentricities in translation will produce raw material for my corpus of dual Spanish-English entries on which to base my app.

So, let’s look at Casa Cordón’s carta (menu) in Castrojeriz, Burgos, Spain. It has two sections of entrantes (starters), frío (cold) and caliente (hot), a section of primeros (first) and a section of segundos (seconds), a fairly typical menu listing.  [Note: usually carta is equivalent to a la carte in USA versus menu which is usually some limited set of choices for a particular price, i.e. equivalent of prix fixe in USA] The entrantes have few surprises (in translation) but here are a couple of interest:

cecina de León Lion smoked beef

While cecina might indeed be beef it is usually translated as just ‘cured meat’ and thus might be from any animal and some people might care which. At least ‘cured meat’ is, at minimum, a more useful translation.

I also note three different “meanings” of de (simply of):  1) queso de oveja (sheep) or queso de cabra (goat): in this case de describes which animal’s milk is used to produce the cheese; 2) variedad de setas (literally: ‘variety of mushrooms’, more correctly means an “assortment” of mushrooms, not a particular variety as per the literal translation): in this case de is used in the conventional manner of a preposition; and, 3) morcilla de Burgos (which Google didn’t “translate” as all): in this case de means a particular type of morcilla (blood sausage) typical of the Burgos area (not made out of bits of burgoses). Now some visitors might know what morcilla is (it is common and often found) but again some people might actual want to know it is a sausage with blood in the mix. So these translations, at minimum, could be a bit more helpful than what Google (or probably any smartphone translation) would provide.

There are a couple of other interesting failures in translation that a little research (hard to do while a server is waiting for you to order or if you don’t have an Internet connection to do searches).

Crema Castellana Cream Castellana

This is a named dish (in the style of Castile, aka Castilian) for which there are multiple recetas (recipes). Translating crema to creme can be literally correct but also often refers to a cream-based soup. In most of the recipes for this item ‘puree’ would be a more accurate translation (the key ingredients are garlic, eggs and old bread). This is a typical case where a really good menu translation would require a description of the item not just a literal translation.

Tallarines con tomate Noodles with tomato

Now some type of noodles with some type of tomato sauce is probably all you need to know but ‘noodle’ is fairly vague (although the literal translation from Oxford for the singular (and accented) tallarín). Somehow Google search connects this to a Wikipedia entry on tagliatelle (this is a mysterious process I’ve previously reported) but I can’t confirm any definition connection of tallarín as tagliatelle,  so simply ‘noodles’ will have to suffice. Often in photos I’ve seen penne more commonly with simple tomato sauce, but probably pasta is just pasta to a hungry peregrino.

Lechazo de Castilla y León Lechazo de Castilla y León

Somehow Google missed this (I’ve seen it get it right, maybe the “context” of de Castilla y León confused it despite the fact any trekker would know they’re in Castilla y León and thus this is just a regional designation. Remember leche is milk would help but really knowing lechazo is one of several terms for ‘suckling’ (not weaned young animal) is better. But this term is used for both piglets and lambs, so the menu alone, even translated better, might not be sufficient to decide to order this item and thus conversation would be needed.

Perdiz de Monte escabechada Pickled Monte Partridge

Here learning perdiz (correctly translated as partridge) is helpful and escabechada is derived from the verb escabechar (to pickle, to souse) is fairly literal, but what about monte – is this some additional (and relevant?) qualification of partridge.  monte normally would mean ‘mountain’ but it can also mean ‘woodland’. This was a bit difficult to track down but it does appear to be a particular wild partridge that is now fairly rare although there is a farmed version that is similar. But searches also revealed a tinned pâté of this bird so it’s still unclear exactly what this menu item might be.

And finally, lubina a la espalda or dorada a la espalda. lubina is correctly translated by Google as ‘sea bass’ but, as I’ve usually seen dorada is translated (literally, but wrong in this context) to ‘gold’ or ‘golden’. In fact it’s a particular type of fish with some dispute whether it is ‘gilt-head bream’ (more likely as this is a Mediterranean fish) or ‘dolphin [fish]’, aka, ‘mahi-mahi’ which is less likely as this is not commonly found in Spain. I’ve had mahi-mahi (and like it) but never gilt-head bream so it would be a bit of adventure to order this (and given the typical blandness of fish could I even tell which it is).

But items then use a la espalda as further description but what does this mean? Google did a literal translation of ‘on the back’ but that’s not helpful. Often on menus for fish there is a qualifier of which part of the fish, e.g. cheek, belly, filet so is ‘back’ something like this? No, as best I can tell from photos in search results it simply looks like a cooking method where the entire fish is split and flattened and then fried with skin (back) side down, i.e. a fairly simple preparation. I can’t confirm this so this is one of those terms I’ll add to my corpus, provisionally, with a lower confidence value.

So hopefully I can pick up my pace, both trekking and posting, but at least one of the issues that has reduced my activity will continue for a while so posts may be less common.


naranjas escarchadas: Subtle difference between confitar and escarchar

Looking at recetas provides a different universe of cooking/food terms than looking at menus. I say this without “proof” but just as my subjective observation looking at a lot of both sources. The recetas tend to be more conversational/colloquial (both in titles and body text) than menus and so reveal a different glimpse of the Spanish terms.

One amusing example (on same webpage as my main topic here) is:

Whoopie Pies, la mejor forma de terminar una semana Whoopie Feet, the best way to finish a week

pies does indeed translate to ‘feet’ (as I learned in my post about names of mushroom parts) but in this case this is a real literal fail in that Whoopie Pie is of course English, not Spanish.

But moving on to main point. As usual I crunch through the Spanish (titles of recetas in this case) and get the side-by-side Google Translation to English, and then look for unusual or interesting translations, and then, investigate deeper. So here is the one that triggered this investigation and post.

Receta del lector: Naranjas escarchadas o confitadas en olla GM F y G Reader’s recipe: Candied or candied oranges in a GM GM pot

Now first of all, to just clear it up, I’ve encountered the olla GM F y G multiple times. This is a cooking device, somewhat similar to the popular InstantPot in USA. Not the issue here.

The issue is seeing ‘candied’ repeated in the English translation. Matching up the words this means Google thinks escarchadas  is ‘candied’ and confitadas  is ‘candied – which is it?

These are conjugations of the verbs escarchar and confitar, neither of which (in Oxford) directly translated to ‘candied’. In fact, that was my initial confusion as both translate to ‘to crystallize’. has more translations: confitar (to candy, to crystallize, to preserve in syrup) and escarchar  (to crystallize). A further clue is the noun, escarcha, which translates to ‘frost’.

The online Oxford dictionary, which I use extensively, offers both definitions and translations. The Diccionarío de la lengua Española from Real Academia Española is the authoritative source on Spanish definitions. So I used definitions from both these sources to attempt to figure out verb means what and why the author of this receta used both. As I’ve generally found the definitions in DLE are written in prose that gives Google Translate some issues so try to read past those.

For confitar:


1 Recubrir frutas cocidas con un baño de azúcar. Coat cooked fruits with a sugar bath.
2 Hervir una fruta o un fruto seco en un almíbar concentrado. Boil a fruit or a dried fruit in a concentrated syrup.
3 Cocinar y conservar, en su propia grasa, carne de cerdo, pato o pavo. Cooking and keeping, in its own fat, pork, duck or turkey.

and DLE

1. Cubrir con un baño de azúcar una fruta o una semilla para hacerla más agradable al paladar. Cover with a bath from sugar a fruit or a seed for dothe plus nice to the palate.
2. Cocer una fruta en almíbar. Cook a fruit in syrup.
3. Endulzar, suavizar. Sweeten, soften.
4. Cocinar algo en aceite a fuego lento. Cook something in oil to fire slow.

Even I, with no fluency in Spanish, could translate #1 better than Google did.

Now let’s look at escarchar:

Oxford (you’ll see why I mentioned escarcha)

1 Poner sobre una cosa algo que imite la escarcha, como azúcar glas o cristalizado, polvos de talco o harina. To put on something something that imitates the frost, like icing or crystallized sugar, powders of talc or flour.
2 Cocer una fruta o un fruto seco en un almíbar concentrado que al evaporarse y enfriarse forma una capa de azúcar cristalizado en su superficie. Cook a fruit or a dried fruit in a concentrated syrup that evaporates and cools to form a layer of crystallized sugar on its surface.

and DLE

1. Preparar confituras de modo que el azúcar cristalice en su exterior como si fuese escarcha. Prepare jams from mode what he sugar crystallize in his Exterior as yes I was Frost.
2. Preparar una bebida alcohólica haciendo que el azúcar cristalice en una rama de anís introducida en la botella. Prepare a drink alcoholic doing what he sugar crystallize in a branch from anise introduced in the bottle.
3. Salpicar una superficie de partículas de talco o de otra sustancia brillante que imite la escarcha. Splash out a surface from particles from talcum powder or from other substance sparkly what imite the Frost.
4. En la alfarería del barro blanco, desleír la arcilla en el agua. In the pottery of the mud White, dissolve the clay in he Water.
5. Rizar, encrespar. Crimp, curl.
6. Congelarse el rocío que cae en las noches frías. Freeze he Dew what falls off in the nights cold.

Now with all this information the two verbs do have some overlap but also considerable difference. confitar is also cooking in oil, hence a confit and escarchar doesn’t include that definition.

But the key difference, with some knowledge of cooking, is that it’s questionable to consider, as Oxford does, confitar as ‘crystallize’ whereas that does apply (better) to escarchar. A crystallized fruit is not exactly the same as a candied fruit despite both being basically coated (and cooked in) sugar.

So why did the recipe use both? And which should it be? The recipe uses the verb confitar in the instructions portion, i.e. perform the action implied by confitar in the cooking device (perhaps its buttons are labeled as confitar, no idea). But the result of the process and the term consistently used for ‘candied’ is escarchadas. So that still leaves me with the question as to which is really best. Asking Google search the question, “what is candied in Spanish” just adds more confusion with the result: azucarado, which makes sense but doesn’t help. And Amazon’s Alexa decided to respond with confitaras.

Now as to my project (building a menu translation app) what I should have in my translation is all of these variations with both candied and crystallized as definitions. IOW, reading a menu is different than writing a receta. For my project I don’t need to know which word is the best choice in writing, just what do these words mean on menus. So I’ll leave it to fluent Spanish speakers to debate this.



Something different: Ingredientes

As I’ve mentioned I’m using various sources to extract side-by-side Spanish (Iberian) and English food/cooking/cuisine terms and phrases. Since my goal is useful translation of menus that is my primary source. But I’ve found two other (major) sources (and a few minor ones) that supplement and add diversity to the terms I’ll be adding to my corpus. Dictionaries (especially with definitions in Spanish) and glossaries often provide a completely different set of terms that might occur in menus.

But recently I’ve been looking at a website for recetas (recipes) and finding yet another look at cooking terms in Spain. Now recetas include instructions for preparation which yields some interesting terms but these are unlikely to be encountered on menus; nonetheless they can be an interesting addition to my corpus. The recipe names also often reveal words with no English translation (e.g.  polvorones, an almond shortbread cookie) and thus something one must just know (by description) if found on a menu. And then there are the list of ingredientes which may include terms one would see on menus but also other terms unlikely to appear.

So with that long preface let’s take a look at a few fragments. I’ve been looking at the receta website which is a very good source (even to use a few of the recipes as the Google Translate is adequate to make some of these items). This has a pull-down list of categories and today’s post comes from examples in dulces y postres (sweets and desserts). There are 34 pages (usually with 14 items per page, including photos for each and a link to the full receta) in this category and I’m only dealing with interesting fragments from the very first page.

As an example, we find

Galletas de avena y panela con frambuesas para hacer tus desayunos más saludables Oatmeal and panela biscuits with raspberries to make your breakfasts more healthy

Of course the translate is biased to using the UK definition (biscuits) of galletas instead of the USA (cookies) but the item to note here is the untranslated panela.  One might guess this had something to do with bread but it doesn’t. Instead panela is an unrefined whole cane sugar. This gets translated, in other references, under various names: ‘brown sugar loaf’ (by Oxford); ‘brown sugar’ (from web search and recipe) and the best explanation (though not exclusively for Spain) is in the Spanish version of Wikipedia, It’s interesting that Google translates avena as oatmeal since the literal translation is just ‘oats’ but oatmeal is actually more appropriate in this context, so chalk one up for Google’s claims to use context.

But it was one specific receta that had a few interesting tidbits:

 ingredientes section from galletas de limón craqueladas, un vicio confesable (Crackled lemon cookies, a confessional vice)


Mantequilla, 30 g (a temperatura ambiente) Butter, 30 g (at room temperature)
Azúcar, 50 g Sugar, 50 g
Ralladura de medio limón Grated lemon half
Huevo L, 1 Egg L, 1
Zumo de limón, dos cucharaditas Lemon juice, two teaspoons
Harina de repostería, 145 g Pastry flour, 145 g
Levadura química, media cucharadita Chemical yeast, half teaspoon
Sal, una pizca Salt, a pinch
Colorante amarillo (opcional) Yellow coloring (optional)
Azúcar glas, para rebozar Sugar glas, to coat

Even though some of the terms in such a list (e.g. pizca (pinch), cucharadita (teaspoon)) are unlikely to appear on menus they are interesting to add to my corpus. cucharadita is interesting since it’s a diminutive derived from cuchara (spoon). But the two terms marked in pink which have “strange” translations warranted additional research.

I do a fair amount of baking, either with yeast or other leaveners and I’ve never encountered ‘chemical yeast’ (Google’s translation of levadura química). Now Oxford does literally translate levadura as ‘yeast’ and química as ‘chemistry’ so Google has the  translation literally correct. But looking for this we can find this article in the Spanish Wikipedia that then offers, as a synonym, the more obvious polvo de hornear (also literally, ‘baking powder’). Now this is what I suspected this ingredient was but I couldn’t immediately conclude that without a literal research, a common issue when encountering a suspect machine translation (which is an issue in menus as well). So levadura (which clearly stems from same root as leavener) would be better translated, as minimum, as ‘chemical leavener’ (a bit more generic than ‘baking powder’) but knowing whether this means baking powder or baking soda is rather important in making cookies.

Additional the adjective modifier, glas, to azúcar (a common enough word I know it by memory, i.e. ‘sugar’), without any translation to English left another puzzle. But I’ve seen, in a glossary (a different way of extracting terms) multiple azúcar xxx type terms to cover the various types of sugars (note the contrast in the above-mentioned panela, however, it’s not  azúcar marrón). Again the Spanish dictionary provides a good explanation with this article where glas is translated (in the article text, by Google) as ‘icing’.  Looking at ‘icing’ is the UK literal translation and . ‘confectioner’s’ is the US literal translation but it would be best known as ‘powdered’ when applied to sugar.

So while levadura química (or polvo de hornear),   colorante amarillo or ralladura de medio limónare unlikely to appear on any restaurant menu panela or azúcar glas or mantequilla (or any of the common terms in this ingredient list) might.

So receta websites do seem a potential rich source to extract for my corpus (as well as some interesting stories).

Tidbits from Appetizers and Starters recetas

Following up on my previous post I’m going to comment, briefly, on a few fragments from the new source, specifically recetas (recipes) for Aperitivos y Entrantes (Appetizers and Starters). Even just the first page (of 26) has some interesting translation issues.

Tortillas de trigo integrales rellenas de langostinos en salsa de piquillos Whole wheat tortillas stuffed with prawns in piquillo sauce

I’ve previously mentioned that tortilla is one of those words that has different meaning in Spain than in, say, Mexico. In Spain this is an egg-and-potato dish somewhat akin to the Italian frittata. But in this case there is a photo of the dish and sure enough it’s a plain old tortilla as we’d call it in the USA.

Palmeras saladas con tapenade negro y pesto verde Salted palm trees with black tapenade and green pesto

This is one of those cases where I shouldn’t jump to a conclusion (or label this as a ‘literal fail’). I figured ‘trees’ didn’t fit and it was probably palm ‘hearts’ (a more normal ingredient). But no, this is a cute pasty where a sheet of puff pasty is stuff and then rolled up from both ends and sliced and baked, making something that does look like a palm tree.

Brazo de gitano salado de pimientos del piquillo, queso, canónigos y nueces Salty gypsy arm of piquillo peppers, cheese, lamb’s lettuce and walnuts

Here I figured translating brazo as arm was probably wrong so I went to look up brazo in Oxford. Oxford helpfully provides some typing completion aids so as I was typing brazo it suggested the phrase brazo de gitano so that’s a bit two specific not to be the match, whose definition (Spanish from Oxford, English from Google Translate)

Pastel dulce de forma cilíndrica elaborado con una capa de bizcocho que se rellena con alguna crema y se enrolla sobre sí misma. Sweet cylindrical cake made with a layer of sponge cake that is filled with some cream and rolled on itself.

I was hoping to find the origin of this term so there I use search but in the unclear trick I’ve mentioned in a previous post an English Wikipedia article is served by Google search (I now suspect they translate to English and search Wikipedia). So this appears to be a “Swiss roll”  or  ‘jelly roll’ but still where does this come from? This article has only a partial explanation.

And finally is ‘cherry tomato’ really just tomates cherry? The standard Spanish word for ‘cherry’ is cereza, but again using Oxford typing completion aid it uses both cereza and cherry following tomate. So a loanword from English filters into Spain?



I’ll take my sombrero sautéed

I’ve continued to work through another online glosarioGlosario de Alimentos, and found an amusing and enlightening entry. On the second page I was doing my usual process: 1) take each term (they are links to a text definition in this source) in Spanish, and, 2) get the Google Translate in a second column, then, 3) click on the link and get the definition (not the English translation of the word, an actual text definition in Spanish), put that under the Spanish term, and, 4) do Google Translate on the definition and clip that and align it with the Spanish. So this is the first part of what I got:

agaricus arvensis

Sombrero: de 8 a 20 cm de diámetro, blanco-amarillento, un poco ocre con la edad, globoso o convexo de joven, después extendido. Borde delgado, enrollado y depués redondeado. Cutícula separable, bastante gruesa y en ocasiones agrietadas.

agaricus arvensis (spoiler, this should be in italics, as a non-English word also)

Hat: from 8 to 20 cm in diameter, white-yellowish, a little ocher with age, globose or convex when young, then extended. Slim edge, rolled and then rounded. Cuticle separable, quite thick and sometimes cracked.

Given that Google Translate didn’t translate the term it was off on a chase to see what I could learn from the definition (and supplementary investigation) to get a more useful translation.

Now one doesn’t need to know much Spanish to know sombrero is a hat. But this bit of the definition, in English or Spanish, doesn’t really give us much clue what agaricus arvensis is. Obviously Google Translate didn’t either (or did it? as this story will reveal). While ‘hat’ is an amusing word to see in the definition of a food ingredient my initial lookup in the Oxford dictionary showed only this translation (as a lesson in this kind of work another dictionary had the right answer (spoiler, won’t say that option, yet) – evidence one needs to look at multiple sources to get accurate translations).

Láminas: libres, apretadas, desiguales, blancuzcas, después rosa-grisácea o encarnadas, pasando a marrón oscuro o en su madurez. Leaves: free, tight, uneven, whitish, then rose-gray or incarnate (Google botched this, should be ‘red’), turning to dark brown or in its maturity.

Now one source translates láminas as ‘leaves’. Nothing in the definition is inconsistent with the translation so this didn’t help.  But as I was grinding through another source (for láminas ) I saw this translations of ‘sheet’ or ‘plate’, but not ‘leaves’. In the authoritative DLE I saw (Google translated):

8. f. Bot. Parte ensanchada de las hojas, pétalos y sépalos. 8. f. Bot. Part widened from the leaves, petals y sepals.

While I was beginning to make guesses (other clues in the complete definition) I thought this was somehow more than ‘leaves’.  Oxford said:

The word laminas is the present form of laminar in the second person singular.

but forcing a lookup on the singular got the same ‘plate’ or ‘sheet’ definition. This is another caution about using translations dictionaries, sometimes a plural noun looks like one of the conjugations of a verb. IOW, no real clue here.

Carne: firme, blanca y delgada por encima de las láminas. Meat: firm, white and thin above the sheets (Note Google picked ‘sheets’ this time instead of ‘leaves’, why?).

So meat and hat and leaves, what sort of food ingredient is this? However, the Spanish version of Wikipedia. I can’t remember what search got me to this location (had to work some to find it again), but this Spanish language Wikipedia article revealed the key clue:

Carne o trama, es un término utilizado en micología para indicar la parte interna del basidiocarpo de una seta o cuerpo fructífero. Meat or plot (DLE has ‘flowering, for trama, which is more likely), is a term used in mycology to indicate the internal part of the basidiocarp of a mushroom or fruitful body.

The overall description had begun to register to me this was the definition of a mushroom where sombrero was ‘cap’ and láminas was gills. But before I quite got confirmation of this there was one more interesting translation from the definition:

Pie: separable, robusto, engrosado en la base, fistuloso desde el comienzo y después hueco.Blanco con algo de vello en la juventud, amarilleando un poco en la base. Piece: separable, robust, thickened at the base, fistulous from the start and then hollow. White with some hair in youth, yellowing a little at the base.

Now pie was one of the first things I looked up (I’m not presenting this post in the same order as my investigation).  In this case the authoritative DLE suggests “stem from the plants” so I later found another source that said ‘foot’ (which initially made me think ‘root’, but I was getting there). Spanish Wiktionary has a definition of “stem or trunk of a plant” derived from the Latin pes. Later I was telling someone this story they reminded me of pied (French, which any walker of the Camino who started at St. Jean should know and even I remember from 8th grade French) and looking that up in French Wiktionary it too comes from the Latin pes.

So, slowly I’m getting there. Then I do the obvious and that is just search on agaricus arvensis , which is a lot more direct path than I went through before getting to this Wikipedia article where agaricus arvensis  is the Latin (aka scientific name, and thus NOT Spanish, thus Google Translate actually was correct!) of this “plant” (not really a plant since it is a fungus).

And so there we have it, there is an English translation (the common name) which is horse mushroom. Lots of work. Problem solved.

BUT, I did one further digression that is actually interesting. Previously I’ve searched for “parts of X in Spanish” and after trying a few of the results hit a really interesting webpage,  todas partes de seta or “all parts of a mushroom”. This page has a nice diagram, which because I respect copyright I will neither embed in my post (or even an image tag, so please check the link). This describes, in good detail these parts:

sombrero, pie, volva, himenio, velo,  laminillas,  basidios, esporas

Note the diminutive laminillas instead of láminas. And that carne, mentioned in the Spanish Wikipedia entry (link above) is not included, so I’ve added one more tidbit of knowledge to mushroom parts.

So there you have it, a lesson in micología (mycology) as well as learning what to call a horse mushroom in Spanish. But in doing some reverse lookups there is at least the suggestion that there is a Spanish word for horse mushroom, mókempa, but the evidence for this is a single source so who knows what part of the world might use this term or whether you’d ever see it on a menu in Spain. I’d bet it’s more likely you might see seta de caballo, unless tying a mushroom (literal word) to a horse (literal word) is an unattractive pairing for a menu (or that the Spanish term would be a literal translation of the English common name).

Fun, huh – lots to learn digging through all this. And more, undoubtedly, Dear Reader than you ever wanted to know.

Will eating acedia give me heartburn?

I’m grinding through a lengthy and complex Glosario de Alimentos and will have much material for posts but this is a short amusing bit. Despite being in the context of food and specifically a text description of a fish (which this source claims is a ‘wedge sole’) Google Translate didn’t use any of that context and so translated acedia to ‘heartburn’. Oxford agrees this is one of the definitions:

Sensación de ardor en el estómago o en la garganta provocada por un exceso de ácido en el estómago. Burning sensation in the stomach or throat caused by an excess of acid in the stomach.

But the definition provided in the glosario goes more like this:

Pescados Blancos o magros White or lean fish
GENERALIDADES Pescado plano, muy consumido en la región andaluza. Sus capturas proceden fundamentalmente de la región suratlántica. GENERALITIES Flat flatfish, very consumed in the Andalusian region. Their captures come mainly from the South-Atlantic region.

And Oxford agrees and has this definition:

Pez marino de cuerpo plano parecido al lenguado, pero de unos 40 cm de longitud, escamas más fuertes y unidas, y color pardo con manchas amarillas o anaranjadas; vive en el Atlántico y el Mediterráneo, cerca de la costa; su carne es comestible. Flat-bodied marine fish similar to the sole, but about 40 cm long, scales stronger and united, and brown with yellow or orange spots; he lives in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, near the coast; his meat is edible.

So in the context of alimentos I would say it’s far more likely to translate acedia as this fish instead of heartburn. But the authoritative DLE only offers these two definitions:

Pereza, flojedad. Sloth, looseness.
Tristeza, angustia, amargura. Sadness, anguish, bitterness.

which are neither the fish or the stomach affliction. Huh. But interesting DLE gives a hint (a bit cryptic) with this:

From lat. Acid, and this of the gr. ἀκηδία akēdía ‘negligence’.

So off I went to Spanish Wiktionary to find more

Etimología Etymology
Del latín acidia, a su vez del griego antiguo ἀκηδία (akedía), ἀκήδεια (akédeia), del prefijo privativo ἀ- (a-) y κῆδος (kẽdos), “preocupación”, del protoindoeuropeo *ḱeh₂dos, “preocuparse”, de la raíz *ḱeh₂d-, “odiar” From the Latin acidia , in turn from the ancient Greek ἀκηδία  ( akedía ), ἀκήδεια  ( akédeia ), from the proprietary prefix ἀ-  ( a- ) and κῆδος  ( kẽdos ), ” concern “, from protoindoeuropeo * ḱeh₂dos , “to worry “, from the root * ḱeh₂d- , ” hate “

and definitions:

1 Falta de esfuerzo o dedicación para la realización de las tareas necesarias o prescritas

   Sinónimos: véase Tesauro de “desidia”.

1 Lack of effort or dedication to the realization of the tasks required or prescribed

Synonyms: see Thesaurus of “neglect” .

2 Estado emocional de dolor y descontento, desagradable para quien lo experimenta

   Sinónimos: aflicción, desdicha, pena, pesadumbre, quebranto, tribulación, tristeza.
   Antónimo: alegría.

2 Emotional state of pain and discontent , unpleasant for those who experience it

Synonyms: affliction , misery , grief , sorrow , grief , distress , sadness .
Antonym: joy .

Neither of these sound like either a fish or heartburn, but the Wiktionary more closely matches the authoritative DLE than Oxford does.  Interestingly Wiktionary then has this:

Wikipedia tiene un artículo sobre acedia

which leads to an article, in Spanish, about Dicologlossa cuneata which is a (Redirigido desde «Acedia») and starts with this sentence (Google Translated)

The acedía or lenguadillo (Dicologlossa cuneata) is a species of pleuronectiforme fish of the Soleidae family .

Amusingly here Google didn’t translate acedia as ‘heartburn’ so yet another strange inconsistency. Also Wiktionary linked to a relevant and useful Wikipedia article but not at all related to its definitions. So this is another real run-around for a single term.

Fish names are notoriously difficult for translation. Even the scientific (Latin) names are often in dispute but their common names in any language are often confusing so translating one confusing name in Spanish to another in English is often going to be problematic and a real challenge for my corpus. But in this case once we dismissed heartburn as the translation and then got to Dicologlossa cuneata we can now get to the English Wikipedia article on Wedge sole (and other search results)

But, knowing what kind of fish is going to appear on your plate can matter.  In this case this looks like a tasty fish I’d like. But as I’ve mentioned I’m not very adventurous eater so there are plenty of things from the sea I wouldn’t want.

Eating seasonal small dog in Spain – a story of hongo y seta

Actually I didn’t really find ‘small dog’ on a menu even though Google decided to translate perrochicos as ‘doggy’. But one can never be sure what is eaten in other countries. After all I did see ‘dog’ (in English) on menus of street vendors on Wangfujing Street in Beijing (along with scorpions and starfish-on-a-stick).

So why am I off on this strange tack?

I was looking at another menu of a restaurant in Logroño, that goes by the somewhat unusual name of Asador El Tahiti (website), another of the famous dining district, Laurel Street. In this case asador is actually a type of restaurant specializing in grilled food or as Google translates a la brasa ‘to the Brazil’. Come on, Google, a la brasa is one of the various terms somewhat interchangeable with ‘grill’ but in this case it means the food is actually grilled in contact with wood or charcoal fire (unlike a la plancha which is grilling on hot iron). Even I, illiterate in Spanish, know this!

Anyway this restaurant has its menu online but in the unfortunate format, first, in a PDF (not subject to Google Translate) and, even worse, it’s just an image of their menu which means there is no text to select and paste in my analysis documents. This is too bad because the carta is available in both Spanish and English which is always handy for creating word/phrase pairs to feed into my corpus. So, unable to get anything from the menu I at least grabbed some text (from the HTML) on the page that contains the links to the PDF menus. And there I found this fun entry:

Platos de temporada: espárragos, setas, hongos, perrochicos Seasonal dishes: asparagus, mushrooms, mushrooms, doggy

Here note the pair where Google translates perrochicos to ‘doggy‘.  Amusing, so what is the correct translation since ‘doggy’ is unlikely. My standard go-to dictionary, Oxford Spanish, doesn’t have an entry for perrochico but instead suggested I look at perro chico.  All right. I recall in the movie The Way Jobst being called perro which he didn’t understand but was subtitled to ‘dog’ so I vaguely remembered that and anticipated something like that for perro chico. This produced this confusing entry with indication this is usage in Spain:

Perra chica (moneda) Bitch girl (currency)

so all Oxford did was convert perro chico to the feminine perra chica and add the confusing (moneda) which does literally translate to ‘currency’ (really meaning a unit of, like a dollar). Now why Google decided to call this ‘bitch girl’ is amusing but it’s literal and the use of ‘bitch’ is not derogatory but actually what female dogs are called (go check out a dog show and see this term used in that sense). And chica doesn’t have a listing (except a colloquial usage in Mexico) but chico has various meanings that would imply young person and in the -o ending as ‘boy’ so it makes sense Google would decided the -a ending means ‘girl’.

So this was a dead end and I was left with my only other strategy for determining what  perrochico might be. And that is search which didn’t reveal much except there seems to be a town of that name. So as I usually do I added another search term to supply context, i.e. temporada. As a spoiler adding seta would have been better. But I did manage to find this link, Perrechicos, la seta reina de mayo.

And this seems to be the answer that fits the context. Normally I don’t accept a single source but this just matches too well.

Perrechicos, la seta reina de mayo Perrechicos, the mushroom queen of May


El perrechico, protagonista del campo en mayo The perrechico, protagonist of the field in May


El perrechico, identificación de esta seta en el norte de España, es una variedad extraordinaria, de carne blanca y muy tierna lo que la convierte en una de las setas más reputadas de la gastronomía tradicional asturiana.

Esta seta también recibe el nombre de “mixernó” en Cataluña, “usón” en Aragón, o seta de San Jorge en el resto de España.

The perrechico, identification of this mushroom in the north of Spain, is an extraordinary variety of white meat and very tender which makes it one of the most reputable mushrooms of traditional Asturian cuisine.

This mushroom also receives the name of “mixernó” in Catalonia, “usón” in Aragón, or seta de San Jorge in the rest of Spain.


La seta comienza a estar presente en el campo a principios del mes de abril si bien es en mayo cuando, masivamente, en grandes colonias circulares, conocidas como “corros de brujas”, comienza a extenderse por todos los campos de Asturias que tengas las características que propicien la proliferación de este manjar.

En las mejores temporadas, el perrechico puede llegar hasta el final del verano lo que indicará el carácter extraordinario de la temporada.

The mushroom begins to be present in the field at the beginning of the month of April although it is in May when, massively, in large circular colonies, known as “corros de brujas”, it begins to spread throughout all the fields of Asturias that have the characteristics that propitiate the proliferation of this delicacy.

In the best seasons, the perrechico can arrive until the end of the summer which will indicate the extraordinary character of the season.

IOW, this is a seasonal mushroom which is a delicacy and local to northern Spain. Which fits in very well with the other items on this restaurant’s webpage.

So it would appear mystery solved and for me an interesting new source (an online with numerous pages about food items). AND, it presents a clue to another common translation issue: hongo vs seta as mushroom. I’ve mentioned this before with two points: 1) hongo is primarily used outside Spain for mushroom (still true), and, 2) hongo is the cultivated (round button type) mushroom vs seta is the more wild type (like shiitake or chanterelles), which is probably wrong. Here is a more likely explanation:

Diferencias entre los hongos y las setas Differences between mushrooms and mushrooms
La confusión entre hongo y seta es habitual y puede ser que hasta algo común entre los aficionados al mundo micológico sin llegar a profundizar en el mismo, es decir todos aquellos que conocen el nombre de la seta o del hongo pero que mucha más intenso y próximo es su conocimiento gastronómico que la tipología exacta de lo degustado. The confusion between fungus and mushroom is common and may even be something common among fans of the mycological world without going deeply into it, ie all those who know the name of the mushroom or fungus but much more intense and closer it is your gastronomic knowledge that the exact typology of what is tasted.
En realidad, la diferencia es sencilla de interpretar ya que las setas son las fructificaciones de los hongos.

Es decir, el hongo es a la seta lo que el manzano a la manzana.

Actually, the difference is simple to interpret since the mushrooms are the fruiting of the mushrooms.

That is, the fungus is to the mushroom what the apple to the apple.

Todavía más sencillo es diferenciar un hongo de una seta teniendo en cuenta que el primero está bajo tierra y el segundo sobre la misma, a simple vista del aficionado y lo que, por norma general, termina en casa después de pasar un día en el campo. Even more simple is to differentiate a mushroom from a mushroom considering that the first one is underground and the second one on the same one, at the naked eye of the amateur and what, as a rule, ends at home after spending a day in the field .

It’s fun to see Google Translate notion of the title line, i.e. differences between mushrooms and mushrooms; IOW, Google thinks both hongo and seta equally translate to mushroom. But I choose to believe the answer presented in this text especially this part:

Es decir, el hongo es a la seta lo que el manzano a la manzana. That is, the fungus is to the mushroom what the apple to the apple.

I’ve mentioned this in other posts, as a common, but not always, “rule”. A plant that produces an edible part is often named such that the plant is masculine (-o) and the fruit is feminine (-a) [recall this discussion about olivo vs oliva]. So hongo is the actual fungus growing underground and seta is the fruiting body or what most of us would actually think of as ‘mushroom’.

It is good to clear this up but I suspect if you see hongo on a menu in Spain just think mushroom. After all the webpage (snippet, above) that started this digression listed BOTH as menu items which means I’m back where I started – why? Is there a difference? Perhaps hongo as cultivated and seta as wild is not entirely wrong. I doubt both would be listed if somehow some mushrooms weren’t called hongo and others called seta.

So still not resolved!




Challenging menu to decode

While I’m continuing to work on the GallinaBlanca diccionario (almost done) I’m getting close to the next town on the Camino so I decided to try to work on another menu from a Logroño restaurant. It’s an interesting website as there are actually three different restaurants, with some common connection:  KABANOVA, PASIÓN POR TI, and LETRAS DE LAUREL. In addition to menus (unfortunately in PDF’s so Google Translate doesn’t work) there are numerous photos of their Especialidades (Specialties), some of which are fairly mystifying exactly what the item is.

I’ve decoded most of the three menus from Kabanova – MENÚ GASTRONÓMICO (Gourmet Menu, an 11 dish tasting menu), MENÚ PASIÓN (???, Pasión is literally passion, but really the name of the common grupo that runs these), and NUESTRO MENÚ DEL MEDIODÍA (Our midday Menu). It’s this midday menu that I’ll discuss in this post. I’ve mentioned menu del Dia before; it’s an economical way to order several courses from a limited menu. While it most often is referred to as  it is often most likely to only be offered at lunchtime (really around 14:30) and on weekdays only, so calling it mediodía actually makes a lot of sense.

Menú para 1 persona DE LUNES A VIERNES Menu for 1 person from Monday to Friday

The menu basically has these five parts:

APERITIVO de la casa. Aperitif of the House
POSTRES incluye un postre casero DESSERTS include a homemade desert
Incluye 1/3 botella Tinto Reciente DOC Rioja, agua mineral y ración de pan Includes 1/3 fresh bottle of wine DOC Rioja, mineral water and bread ration

Many restaurants will have Entrantes (instead of the Apertivo) on their menu del Dia, but judging from the pictures and other information this establishment is putting its bar forward rather than some small plate.

The first item under PRIMEROS had some fun translation to do:

Menestra fresca de verduritas de Calahorra con su velouté, crispy de alcachofa y polvo de jamón Fresh stew of Calahorra vegetables with its velouté, crispy artichoke and ham powder

I’ve mentioned that literal translation won’t work to decode many items on menus in Spain so we see a few examples of that here: 1) Calahorra doesn’t have an English translation because it’s actually the name of the second largest city in La Rioja which has as its major activity the growing and distribution of prized vegetables so using this term is emphasizing the quality and freshness of the verduritas (vegetables) used; note that  is a diminutive one of the three standard dictionary term verdura; 2) velouté doesn’t translate to English because it’s actually a French cooking term (one of the five “mother” sauces); 3) crispy is interesting since it’s already an English word and not Spanish, I guess they thought this sounded appealing, and, 4) polvo de jamón (ham powder) actually does seem to be what its literal translation implies. I found a number of receta on the Net for this and it’s just ground-up ham after drying in an oven that is used like a seasoning from a shaker. Menestra fresca itself has numerous recipes but basically it’s a stew of multiple vegetables (you can find lots of images of it on the Net).

Another item is interesting:

Ensalada de la Ribera con rulo de queso cabra. Riverside salad with goat cheese curler

Yes, de la Ribera translates to riverside which doesn’t tell you anything.  However, this link gives you a good picture and explanation of this common salad in Basque areas. The lettuce, which looks like romaine, is not and actually is a specialty in this part of Spain, often called COGOLLOS DE TUDELA (buds (really cores) of Tudela (which is a municipality of Navarre). It has is connected to de la Ribera because it is grown surroundings of the Ebro river banks.

This is a curious item:

Nuestro plato de cuchara del día Our dish of spoon of the day

A dish of spoon, sounds odd. Actually I’ve encountered this labeling before and it basically means a dish that would be eaten with a spoon, like a soup but possibly something else than sopa (soup) and so therefore labeled more generally than sopa. IOW, you have no idea, from the menu, what this will be. Since this would be one of the three choices under PRIMEROS you’d really have to discuss this item with your server or just opt for one of the other two choices or take your chances.

So, IOW, to understand and decide which of the three PRIMEROS you’d order requires knowing a lot more about food in Spain than your literal translation dictionary is going to tell you. And again, for me, the challenge is how any app for a smartphone could explain all this (or how the search would work because the exact wording would vary from menu to menu even for the same items).

I’ll wrap up with just a couple more interesting items (and this menu is this restaurant’s shortest one so lots to decode here, as you might not want just the limited choices of menu del Dia.

Bacalao confitado en aceite Arbequina sobre cama de pisto. Cod confit in Arbequina oil on ratatouille bed

Arbequina is another word that has no translation to English. That’s because it is a particular cultivar of olive, that is, you just have to know what it is.

Carrillera de ibérico 36H con manzana, zurracapote y su crujiente. Iberian cheek 36H with apple, mulled and crispy

mulled is an interesting translation of zurracapote which is actually a wine drink (similar to the more familiar Sangria). And, no clue what the 36H means?

Secreto ibérico a la brasa con salsa Teriyaki y piña caramelizada Grilled Iberian secret with Teriyaki sauce and caramelized pineapple

‘secret’ is the literal translation of secreto but what is it – sounds close to what might be called “mystery meat” here. But in fact it is a very expensive ($51/lb) cut (usually from pig and while different at different butchers usually is from the shoulder) that is similar to skirt steak. And I’ve already mentioned you would know that ibérico (Iberian) is the very prized “black” pig. Most likely, given everything else about this restaurant it probably is the de bellota type (essentially free-range and the most expensive pork) but  ibérico alone doesn’t imply that, so again you might want to ask.

There is a lot more to the menu for this restaurant and even more for other two associated restaurants so I recommend this site (scroll down enough to see the images) as one to consider.  Maybe you can figure out what Vieira gallega con sus rabas de bogavante is or GinTonic riojano is or especially oído cocina is (all have pictures in the  Especialidades. And I’m still trying to decide what I think is a lingote de cordero (either ingot or slug of lamb) – is this a cut of the lamb or a quantity indication or a preparation? I couldn’t find that and the photo doesn’t make it clear either.

BTW: This website also has a blog and this post really boosts Logroño as a foodie stop, especially (as I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere) “both in the mythical Laurel Street”. And, interestingly, while backtracking to include this in my post I discovered another blog post which tries to explain oído cocina.

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, 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.

Some interesting things under the letter P

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been grinding through an online dictionary of culinary terms (many not Spanish) to get Spanish definitions. This dictionary is provided on the website of a food company, GallinaBlanca, in Spain yet a number of the dictionary entries do not apply (according to to Spain, but instead to somewhere in western hemisphere. There is a small glitch in the dictionary in that the links by letter to pages for that letter get out of sync at P, so you have to click on Q to get the P words. Which is where I am now.

So let’s just look at a few which may be less than all since I’m hard pressed on time. Here’s all the P words I’ve processed (thus far):


Now notice that a fair number of these are loanwords or cognates in Spanish.


I’m going to have to single source some of my claims of what these mean. PANACHE was interesting because spanishdict thought it was the English word and translated that to Spanish as el garbo, la gracia. However this dictionary missed a critical bit; I believe the word is PANACHÉ which spanishdict translates as ‘mixed salad’ which matches the definition and its approximate translation better:

PANACHE Mezcla de varios ingredientes cortados y rehogados en mantequilla u otra grasa, generalmente de verduras o de frutas. Mixture of several cut ingredients and sautéed in butter or other fat, usually vegetables or fruit.

And according to several sources (for instance)

A panache of vegetables is a mixture of a variety of different vegetables. Panache is a French cooking term and can also be applied to fruits or a mixture of multi-colored ice creams or jellies.

so really this probably was a loanword into Spanish and hence this dictionary not using the PANACHÉ spelling.

PATÉ and PAPRIKA are obvious loanwords (despite much paprika being produced in Spain the word (and substance) originated in Serbo-Croatian and migrated to Hungarian and was then imported into Spanish. PANETONE is cognate of the original PANETTONE in Italian and PAPILLOTE originates from en papillote in French. And the PANCETA IBÉRICA is partially derived from the Italian PANCETTA.  PANQUEQUE literally translates (via spanishdict) as ‘pancake’ but this is only used in Latin America and the actual food is much closer to crepes, especially also usually meaning both the wrapper and the filling.

PASTAS is interesting because I’d already discovered this one. Along my virtual walk on the Camino I encountered a shop selling these that had a menu, with pictures, so there wasn’t any ambiguity what they thought PASTAS are. Now spanishdict didn’t find PASTAS but did find the singular PASTA and had many translations, the first being the obvious pasta (when the context is pasta in the Italian sense) or ‘paste’ in many other senses. Way down in the list of possible meanings was ‘cookie’ (for U.S.) or ‘biscuit’ (for Brits). And in fact that is what that shop was selling not actual pastas. One might be surprised to think you’re ordering a pasta dish and then get cookies.

I’ve run out of time so just a couple more tidbits.

  1. What is English translation of PAELLA? PAELLA. This is one of those Spanish words that is now so common, at least in foodie circles, it has now been imported in English (at least in U.S.)
  2. PAJA is one of those words that takes some interpretation to make sense referring to food – literally it means straw. In the definition provided it refers to what we’d call shoestring or matchstick potatoes, i.e. very skinny French Fries. So ‘straw’ might turn out to be more tasty than it sounds.
  3. PALTA translates as avocado (but for Latin America) since the reverse lookup of avocado is aguacate and I’ve seen that on numerous menus – another indication this dictionary is not specific for Spain.
  4. Likewise PAPAS translates to potato but again for Latin America since in Spain it is patata (very very common on menus in Spain)
  5. PARRILLADA is interesting because it is a diminutive of PARILLA.  This is a whole subject for a post all by itself but for now PARILLA is the grill grate to cook the food and PARRILLADA is the food item cooked that way.
  6. PASTELES EN HOJA literally translates to ‘leaf cake’. Searches online lead mostly to a dish from the Dominican Republic that is similar to a tamal or pasteles. But GallinaBlanca defined this with the single word (not their usual phrase) which was hojaldre which translates roughly to puff pastry. I’d researched this before and hojaldre is similar to phyllo. So far none of the searches reveal puff pastry under this term.
PASIEGOS Sobaos (lit: lots of translations but kneaded seems like best fit) pasiegos (no literal): exquisito bizcocho cuadrado típico de la región cántabra. Sobaos Pasiegos: Exquisite square sponge cake typical of the Cantabrian region.

Oxford says (for singular) “Relative to the Pas, valley of the Spanish region of Cantabria, or its inhabitants.” interesting that the article was found in search for pasiego but is titled as soboas. again recipe is titled for sobaos.

GallinaBlanca’s definition created a kind of circular reference, i.e. PASIEGOS are sobaso pasiegos. Great, what am I supposed to do with that? But I found that pasiego itself refers to Pas Valley in Cantabria, which matches the definition. And soboas (not the original word) really has the meaning, which is a baked good, kind of a cake, which is described further in either of the two links. So one would conclude using pasiegos (instead of soboas) is a kind of colloquial or nickname use that would probably be understood by locals but tough for a foreigner to decipher if pasiegos were a menu item.

So, one point of all this is, that churning through these definitions in tedious but hopefully thorough fashion, digging through contradictions, finding multiple sources of information might allow me, a non-Spanish-speaker and non-visitor to Spain and non-Spain-culinary expert to nonetheless figure out some of these more difficult things to translate. So PANCHITOS is fairly simple (salted peanuts, might get those in a bar) but a lot of these other terms are pretty tricky.