Food & Lifestyle

My food translations

Menu translation

While cooking, and more recently baking, have always been my hobby, I also have experience translating a varied range of culinary texts:

  • academic essays on food history
  • literary essay on British food
  • cookbook copy
  • journalistic articles on various food-related topics
  • luxury product descriptions for websites
  • old and modern recipes
  • professional product reviews for blogs
  • professional restaurant critiques for newspapers
  • pub menus, tearoom menus
  • scientific research on food pairings
  • scientific research on fish properties
  • utensil instruction manual
  • restaurant website

Request to see a portfolio sample.

My creative copy

My dedication to this specialism and my writing style (recently described by a reviewer as creative, consistent and fresh) help me craft translations that are natural, human, engaging, and resonate with Spanish audiences while projecting your tone of voice. I have, for example, received very positive feedback on the transcreation of an add for a British product; on the translation of very idiomatic product and restaurant reviews; and on the translation of a very creative and evocative tearoom menu.

My formal training

It never ends, because I enjoy it. In the past year, I completed over 200 hours of CPD, including 180 hours of culinary translation training:

  • a 3-month course in culinary translation (see testimonial below)
  • a short course on the history of food styling and marketing to restaurant customers and to cookbook readers
  • a couple of webinars on SEO translation, that is, keyword and metatag translation in website translation to help your customers find you

My dedication to you

Food webinar

As well as formal training, I follow what’s going on in the world of food, nutrition and health to understand the issues you and your customers face; to be informed about upcoming trends; and, quite importantly, to learn the language of the trade. As well as subscribing to trade magazines such as Speciality Food, I attend food-related events. For example, this year I attended:

  • the online Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2020;
  • sessions of Gastronomika Live 2020
  • sessions of Turningthetables by FineDiningLovers
  • many sessions of #encuentrodelosmares, a conference about the future of our seas, sustainable fishing, marine life preservation and how to feed the world in 2050 without ruining the environment

Why should I work with a specialist culinary translator?

2020 has not been a bed of roses for the tourism and hospitality sector. You lost business, you may have considered closure and you are focusing on local clients. But your foreign clients or customers will be desperate to visit once things settle down. Some may decide to buy more local products and travel locally, but many will be craving the excitement of foreign holidays and flavours. I know for a fact that I am.

Your foreign customers want to understand you, your menus and your products. English may be the most widely-spoken foreign language, but food vocabulary is hugely varied and equivalences are often inexistent. You need a specialist who knows what to translate, what not to translate, and how best to do it.

Translation degrees do not cover specialist culinary translation. They may analyse or even translate a culinary text in class to exemplify the many translation challenges it presents, but the reality is that there are hundreds of culinary texts with hugely diverging needs (compare cookbooks for the general public and cookbooks for professionals). When English and Americans do not understand each other when it comes to food terms, imagine a foreigner.

Someone with decades of cooking experience, who understands cooking processes and knows what sources of information to use when stuck, is what you need, not randomly googled information. For starters, a lot of food terms are misused online which means non-specialist culinary translators could easily be reproducing those mistakes.

Being a foodie is not enough to be a culinary translator though. A culinary translator needs to know what cultural transfer involves, and words are only a factor, admittedly a big one. Think of verrine. It sounds lovely, or so I think as a Francophile. But will customers know what it is? Will they know how to pronounce it comfortably when ordering?

French used to be the main foreign language studied in Spain, but it has been widely replaced by English. The meaning of ‘small glass’ will be lost on the majority. Some might be familiar with the presentation if they have encountered it before, but it’s not a nice-sounding word in Spanish, where it is pronounced with a ‘b’; there are better options to translate this term. In the UK, where many drop languages at 14, many customers might prefer a term they understand. Of course, it depends on your target client.

Cookbook and menu translations are famous for being left to non-specialists and badly done. You’ve probably heard of translated cookbooks that had to be fully revised and reprinted, because, for example, all the temperatures were wrong for the target country, like this one. Stomach churning menu translations abound online; here is a very interesting article on why menu translations should be left to specialists.

I trained with an experienced culinary translator, studied the characteristics of a wide range of culinary texts and received extensive professional feedback and advice on my culinary translations. I confess I made many mistakes initially, despite my translations being graded as outstanding; so I know that you need specialist training. Those without will be making many mistakes, but you will never know if you do not understand the language in question. You will find out if it is, say, a failed advertising campaign that people openly criticise in the media.

Specialist training is not enough either. You need someone with a creative writing style, because many culinary texts are marketing texts, your business card. 

Finally, your hospitality business or cookbook deserve translations that are useful instead of translations that undo your hard work.

Testimonials

After revising several of Pili’s translations, I can certify that she is a true professional. She is punctual and meticulous; she conducts in-depth research (a must in culinary translation); she incorporates additional information to fill cultural gaps; and she adapts to the particular demands of each text.

Her bilingualism is another great asset as she has a perfect command of the Spanish and British languages and cultures. This is crucial when translating culinary texts, because cultural-specific concepts crop up that are extremely difficult to transfer from one language to another. But, thanks to her cultural and linguistic expertise, Pili easily surmounts this obstacle, producing texts that are natural, easy to read and easy to understand.

She is also responsible, friendly, courteous and diligent. I have no hesitation in recommending her work and I myself will be counting on her for future needs.

I’d be delighted to speak to you if you need further details.

Rosa Llopis – Servicios Lingüísticos

Latest from the blog