Food & Lifestyle

How I got into food and cooking

Food translations

I started cooking at a young age, but I got into foreign foods thanks to my mother’s stories of her life in Uruguay and, later, thanks to my experiences au pairing abroad.

I grew up bilingual in Galicia, north-west Spain, surrounded by Galician, by Spanish with Uruguayan turns of phrase and by regular allusions to Uruguayan dishes that my mother had learnt to make living in Uruguay such as tarta pascualina, matambre or pizza fainá. In 2006, I finally visited Uruguay and got to savour some of the dishes of one of the friendliest nations in the world.

My food translation experience

I have experience translating a varied range of culinary texts and can provide a sample or references.

AcademicBooksPressProductsRestaurants
academic papers
scientific research papers
literary essay on British food
cookbook copy
recipes (modern and old)
instruction manuals
newspaper articles
blog articles
luxury product descriptions
product reviews
menus
restaurant critiques
restaurant websites

My formal training

  • a 3-month course in culinary translation (testimonial below)
  • a short course reviewing the history of food styling and marketing in restaurants and cookbooks
  • a couple of webinars on SEO and localisation

My informal training

I follow what’s going on in the world of food, wine, nutrition and health to understand the challenges you and your customers face; learn about upcoming trends, and the language of the trade. As well as subscribing to trade magazines, I attend events. And 2020 has been chock-a-bloc with conferences!

Food webinar
The Future of Wineabout wine and sustainability
Eating the Gapabout food and sustainability
Encuentro de los Maresabout sustainable fishing and eating and marine life preservation
Gastronomika Live about the future of restaurants
Turning the Tablesabout the future of restaurants
Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2020about various topics
My 2020 events

My creative copy

My sheer dedication to this specialism together with my creative writing style allow me to craft natural, human, engaging texts that resonate with Spanish audiences while projecting your own tone of voice. I have received incredible feedback for the transcreation of an add for a British product; and for the translation of very idiomatic product and restaurant reviews, and of a very evocative tearoom menu.

Do I need a specialist culinary translator?

Can you afford not to work with one? Food is a different world in each country, and your foreign customers want to know what they are eating and to understand your products, brand and ethos. A non-specialist translator does not have enough specialist knowledge and understanding to adequately make your product understandable and appealing to a completely different audience. Read more about issues in food translation in my blog.

Being a foodie is not enough to translate. Culinary translators need to have an excellent knowledge of both your culture and the culture you’re addressing, and culture is a lot more than words. Take the word verrine; it sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But, will your customers understand it? Will they know how to pronounce it and order comfortably? Would it be better to use a different term? In the UK, customers who drop languages at 14 (the majority) might prefer a term they understand. Of course, it depends on your audience. A foodie without translation training does not know what is best to do when there’s a cultural gap, because there are many factors involved in overcoming that obstacle.

Being a translator is not enough either. Translation degrees do not cover specialist culinary translation. Most translators are not familiar with the specific challenges posed by culinary texts, nor do they have specialist culinary knowledge. How do I know? Because I have an MA in translation with a dissertation in cookbook translation and, although I learnt a great deal researching cookbook translation for nine months (something 99% of translators haven’t done), I learnt so much in the culinary translation course I completed in 2019. Three months spent familiarising myself with a varied range of culinary texts, learning about their specific demands and viable translation strategies, and having my translations revised by an experienced subject specialist who in turn provided extensive feedback.

Seeing untrained people blog about food translation, I witnessed constant mistakes, which I could not help myself correcting a lot of the time. Yet, food translation is often trusted to non-specialists. So, you might have heard of translated cookbooks that had to be fully revised and reprinted, like this one. You might find this article about why menu translations should be left to specialists interesting.

Being a specialist culinary translator is not enough either. You need a translator who also has a creative flair, because many culinary texts are marketing texts, your business card, the first image a foreign customer gets of you. You also need a translator who is good at explaining things. You can read reviews of my work around the site to learn about my style and you can check my publishing translation page, education section, to learn about my background in education.

When you’ve spent precious money and time to produce good marketing materials, you want a translator who does them justice. The food packaging translations below look ok at first sight, but are they? Would you be happy with something of similar quality in Spanish?

Testimonial

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

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