Lost in Traducción

2007.Jan.29 Monday · 3 comments

in Life, Popular Posts

“The best translations cannot convey to us the strength and exquisite delicacy of thought in its native garb, and he to whom such books are shut flounders about in outer darkness.”

– Edwin Booth, Actor

Buenos Aires – There are myriad internet sites out there that talk about the world of mistranslation. In the food world, of course, there are running jokes and websites about the “Ingrish” on Japanese or Chinese menus. I remember noting a special at a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn that offered “Grilled Doneless Pork Chips in AMEX Spicy Saucy” (more of poor spelling than poor translation, but still…), which for me became the entree to an article on creative cookery gone round the bend. I’ve pointed out the amusing translations on some local menus here in Buenos Aires now and again. But yesterday, I admit, for a few moments, I was completely stumped.

We’d stopped in at a favorite little local parrilla, and there, the day’s special was proudly proclaimed as “Lomo de Salmón Metrotel”. Now, there are numerous Metrotel corporations in the world, most of them having something to do with telecommunications or internet services. I was puzzled, unfamiliar with their contributions to cuisine. Our regular waitress too… she said that it was something new for the menu, she’d tasted it and it was delicious, and she described it as a wine sauce. Though, she thought maybe the chef didn’t quite know what he was talking about since he claimed it was a famous French dish – I wasn’t clear if she thought it just wasn’t French or if she thought he simply didn’t know what it was called. You’d have thought maybe at that moment a small lightbulb in the recesses of my mind would have blinked on, but no, it wasn’t until the plate arrived in front of me…

Ah… Metrotel…. Maître d’hòtel… a sauce of melted butter, chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper…

This is where I should be using my photo of Luigi Pirandello’s bust that I posted a couple of days ago…


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

inz January 29, 2007 at 11:02

There was this young waitress at the recently opened Santa Fe Municipal Theater Restaurant. Instead of “fetuccine putanesca” she offered a couple at a table next to us, “fetuccine reputi madri.” I guess she got the general idea right. 🙂

dan January 29, 2007 at 18:57

Love it!

Gautam July 11, 2008 at 13:04

Haha, reminds me of back home in India. We have these little carts/vans selling “chinese” food (usually a mix chowmein, chicken and soups).
Without fail for the 10 or so years that I can recall, i was always served a Hot & Sour, pronounced Hot & “Sewer”, which in hindi means pig. For a Vegetarian version of it too!!

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