For many countries, gastronomy is a hallmark: it is culture and tradition. Every country, and even every region, has traditional dishes, preparation methods, and common ingredients and condiments. Today, food from other countries is becoming increasingly popular among the population! So much so that we’re seeing more and more ethnic restaurants open in cities. 

This trend makes its way into our homes in the form of cookbooks with recipes that are far from traditional and that use more exotic ingredients and cooking methods. 

That’s why, within the publishing industry, culinary or recipe book translation is experiencing a growing need for translation services. And not just any old translation services! Services requiring professional translators who are specialists in the area.

Translating recipes is far from simple

At first glance, translating cookbooks may appear straightforward, but not all recipes are basic or easy to understand. For example, there are highly technical recipe books for professional chefs, ingredients that are very similar but not identical, and cookery concepts that don’t exist in other cultures. Translating a recipe book must be left to a professional with knowledge of both the publishing and culinary industries.

The reader will follow the text word for word. That’s why it must be very well formulated so that the person cooking the dish doesn’t run into any problems while preparing it. Recipes are also full of specific vocabulary (particularly verbs and units of measurement) that require adaptation, not only of the measures, but also the utensils used.

Often, people place little importance on translation. The truth is, however, that translation is essential for increasing the product target audience and return on investment. Most importantly, a translation by a professional is essential if the reader is to perfectly understand and value all the content, and ultimately, recommend the book to others.

No one would recommend a book to a friend that they’ve barely understood or that hasn’t come in useful because they had to convert all the measures themselves, right?

Recipes are instructive texts. That’s why transmitting the message accurately and precisely is so important, as otherwise, the text wouldn’t fulfil its function. Leave it to a professional translator and problem solved!

The knowledge you need to successfully translate recipes

  • Familiarity with the various translation methods and techniques for resolving cultural and language difficulties that may arise.
  • Awareness of the latest culinary trends.
  • Knowledge of the different units of measurement and their equivalents in the language you are translating into. In a typical English recipe, for example, we may come across the abbreviation “fl. oz”. In a Spanish translation, however, providing the measure in fluid ounces wouldn’t suffice. Instead, the translator would need to convert it into millilitres, a volume measure that indicates the contents of a small container that holds liquid. 
  • Research into the availability of ingredients in the country where the book is to be sold. Some recipes suggest ingredients and even brands that may not be available in the target country. In this case, the translator would need to offer an explanation and provide a suitable alternative. That’s why it’s important for translators to have knowledge not just of the source and target languages, but also of the culture. Just imagine what would happen if a dish containing beef, for example, hadn’t been adapted for readers in India!
  • In-depth understanding of the text and awareness of the responsibility that translation entails. Allergens are a good example, as any mistake during translation may have dangerous consequences for the health of consumers. Not only could it result in allergic reactions, but also poisoning or other health problems if the ingredients or processing technique aren’t stated correctly.
  • Knowledge of the cooking utensils or appliances for the different steps of a recipe. Some types, brands or models may not be commercialised in the target region. The solution would involve adding a description of the process so that the reader can replicate it.
  • Understanding of the cultural eating pattern where the book was written and how it differs from the pattern where it will be commercialised.
  • Knowledge of the typical dishes. Literally translating the names of traditional dishes is a relatively common mistake! It creates confusion because, in the majority of cases, the translation is meaningless. When you’re abroad, you’ll often see names of dishes on bar and restaurant menus that don’t mean anything or are even offensive. This is because people don’t tend to place the necessary importance on translation and resort to machine translation tools.
  • As well as potential differences between the use of foods, food ingredients or condiments, there are also different ways of cooking, cutting or handling foods that other cultures may consider strange.

Professional translators have the solution

We really can’t stress just how important it is to leave your project to a professional translation agency. Adapting a product to another culture is a way of expanding and making your work known, and we want to help you on your journey. 

Don’t worry if you can’t decide whether or not to translate your book, it’s normal! It’s a very big step and there are lots of things to consider. Get in touch so that we can look into your project and offer you the best possible advice. You don’t need to go it alone… we’ll be by your side every step of the way.

Don’t worry about the culinary speciality or the country where you want to sell your recipe book! We can take on projects in Spanish, French, Italian, Thai, and so on. The team at Tatutrad is here to help you however we can!