Sunday, October 02, 2011

Not So Delicious

I love to read food magazines to get inspiration for my own cooking. One night a few months ago, I was having trouble sleeping, so I was reading an English food magazine called delicious.

I was quite shocked to suddenly see my own words on the page. delicious was doing a feature on a cookbook that I had translated, but there was no reference to the fact that this book had been translated, and there was certainly no mention of my name.

I often think that food is a way of bringing different cultures together; it’s a low-risk way of getting to know people. But we wouldn’t be able to do that without translators; translators are the ones who make recipes available to people outside a particular culture. My own translation practice has included many menus, recipes, and cookbooks over the years, and I’ve even written an article about the challenges involved in translating food.

After seeing that article in delicious, I wrote to the editor. I received a response that said that the publisher didn’t tell them it was a translation, so it wasn’t their fault. Personally, I wouldn’t accept an answer like that from my students (at the very minimum, you might look inside a cover and note who was involved in the production of a book), but I thought delicious could use the experience to learn something new, so I suggested they do an article about the translation of cookbooks. Many cookbooks in the UK are translations, but no one ever comments on that. delicious didn’t bother responding, but perhaps another food magazine will pick up the topic at some point soon.

So that was really disappointing – so disappointing, in fact, that I won’t be renewing my subscription to delicious – and it shows how much work we translators still have to do to promote our own visibility.


french interpreters said...


french interpreters

Anonymous said...

that last sentence is so true... And translating food magazines/books/websites is a really difficult job! Imagine what difference a word would make if you wrote stir instead of steam :)

B.J. Epstein said...

Thank you! It is a difficult but enjoyable job and yes, we must get every word right. I remember being tired once and writing, "Bake the bed" instead of "Bake the bread". Luckily I caught that when I was editing my work!

Best wishes,