There is a certain poetry to an awkward translation. Especially if you imagine it said by a strapping, dark wavy haired, suntanned and oiled señor. With a dimple in his chin. I am researching the country of Chile, preparing myself for a mid-winter escape to warm beaches and cold beer. Finding information on the country, not the bean dish, leads me to many websites in Spanish. But, tadah, the wonderful web provides a translation. Language translation on the web is really a miracle of some sort. It allows so much more information, translated from a native tongue, so one hopes maybe a little more honest. But also with awkward cadence, misarranged sentences and some pretty shocking translations.
Take for example a little exploration into Chilean cuisine. I’m preparing myself to order off a menu intelligently (and to avoid something similar to our ill fated “gristled ear” adventure in Spain). From what I can see we will have marvelous dining on seafood pies, pork boiled in pig leather and drunken chicken. I was however leery of the “Children Involved” listed in the beef category. Bouncing back to the Spanish, Ninos Envueltos must be related to the meat stuffed rolls I’ve made in cooking classes in Sicily and Italy. From what I recall the name comes from the word “envelope” for the pocket that is made for the herbs and breadcrumbs inside. But in this case an envelope becomes “involved” and what is probably a veal cutlet becomes child. In the actual recipe it gets further from the truth, calling for “12 scallops seat small” which I assume are small escallops of veal, not scallops of the sea. The list of ingredients looks wonderful (chard leaves, white wine, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, vinegar and bacon). All is pretty understandable and lovely until the last direction. Quite frankly you are to: “Serve two children wrapped with their sauce per person, accompanied with a good creamy mashed potatoes (sic).”
The lilted, stumbling sentences manage to portray a romantic image of beaches, sunsets, harbors and birds. Even mention of trash on the beach is not so bad. I give you this: “The sector of the Vatican is, after a beautiful pine forest, Los Pescadores beach. Ask for the name is something more: five beautifully painted boats rest on the shores of a small bay surrounded by rocks. There is a route that follows here northward and, using rocks, arrives at the famous Punta Lacho, listed as the best viewpoint on the Central Coast for having panoramic from Isla Negra to Cartagena. However there are some problems: the memories of the human presence who forget to bring their trash.”
It all sounds so peaceful (minus the trash) and the elusive romantic in me stirs as I envision the heat, the Malbec wines, walks on the beach, shots in a local bar. Someone that my “powerful air” won’t scare away. His name may be Don Nicanor. Finally: “ Las Cruces is seaside resort all year round. Autumn rains, fog or sudden sunny give you a powerful air. Winter is in full solitude and spring with migratory birds, announces that the heat is about to return. If walking around here, hopefully he greets don Nicanor. Meanwhile, the song of the sea never stops.” (Chile.com)