Translating recipes – Part 3

May 31, 2017 by admin

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In the last of my three blog posts on translating recipes, I tackle the vexed issue of quantities and measurements and then the more delightful experience of culinary exploration.

Quantities

Even countries which share a common language offer a baffling array of kitchen measuring methods. Younger British cooks who are versed in the metric system are also used to having to deal with granny’s hand-me-down family recipes in imperial measures. As a consequence, many of our cookbooks offer metric-imperial conversion tables as standard.But even the flexible Brits throw their hands up in dismay at the Americans and their cup measurements. How imprecise! And then there’s the fact that a US cup is not exactly the same as an Australian cup. Then again, when you use these kinds of measure, maybe you have to develop a true feel for what is right in a recipe, how many professional chefs truly weigh out their ingredients I wonder.

But even the flexible Brits throw their hands up in dismay at the Americans and their cup measurements. How imprecise! And then there’s the fact that a US cup is not exactly the same as an Australian cup. Then again, when you use these kinds of measure, maybe you have to develop a true feel for what is right in a recipe, how many professional chefs truly weigh out their ingredients I wonder.

When translating, you discover all sorts of measures which are similarly vague. It seems clear that German “Prise” can be translated as English “pinch”, but then how to tackle “Msp: Messerspitze” (literally a “knife tip”). It’s easy to visualise a dry ingredient on the tip of the knife, and it sounds similar to a “pinch” in quantity.But could it be a bit less, or a bit

But could it be a bit less, or a bit more. And what about if a single recipe refers to both “Prise” and “Msp”, is there really any difference!? Perhaps only the original recipe writer will know.

Both German and French baking recipes seem to have a fondness for using small sachets of crucial ingredients such as baking powder, vanilla sugar etc.So, where a German cake might require 1 sachet of baking powder, the converted English recipe needs a reference in tsp. Muddying the waters still further, German brand Dr. Oetker sell 16g sachets of baking powder in Germany but in the UK Tesco offer a 5g sachet by the very same brand.

So, where a German cake might require 1 sachet of baking powder, the converted English recipe needs a reference in tsp. Muddying the waters still further, German brand Dr. Oetker sell 16g sachets of baking powder in Germany but in the UK Tesco offer a 5g sachet by the very same brand.

Personal culinary and linguistic discoveries

It’s been a while since I lived in Germany and explored the full delights of the “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake) culture, so these days I am excited when my work projects introduce me to new baked treats. The Dresdner Zuckerkuchen might be simple, but often the best things are – just a plain yeasted cake which is sprinkled with sugar. As the name suggests, a speciality of the town of Dresden.

With apologies to all the “Mett” fans out there, I for one had never come across this German delicacy until I was required to translate a recipe for it (apparently it’s a thing in Belgium and the Netherlands too). There’s no gilding the lily here – it is basically a plate of raw pork mince with a bit of salt and pepper thrown in, and possibly some onion or garlic if you’re feeling fancy.

A friend who used to work in the food industry refused to believe that raw pork could be served in this way (we’re back with cross-cultural health and safety concerns here), but it has its own wiki page to prove its existence. In fact the wiki page is worth checking out for the “Mettigel” (Mett hedgehog) complete with raw onion spines and olive eyes, which is a buffet bar staple. So, my culinary translation adventures brought me some new recipes to try, and some recipes which I’m yet to be persuaded by, and these have been fun projects to work on.

So, my culinary translation adventures brought me some new recipes to try, and some recipes which I’m yet to be persuaded by, and these have been fun projects to work on.

Reference

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/10718888/The-Germans-love-minced-meat-just-a-little-too-much.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mett

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