The big surprise in European menu translations

The big surprise in European menu translations

Somehow, there are few words to describe the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach caused by a Barcelona menu that lists “alcachofas, angulas y lletados can acelgas” as the choice you face for supper. Absent a translation of these exotic phrases, dinner becomes The Big Surprise. You stab blindly at the bill of fare, hope for the best, and usually end up with Octopus Soup or some similar delicacy.

Obviously, you’ll need translations of European menus. They follow below, arranged for seven European languages in the same food groupings that you’d find on a menu: soups, meats, vegetables, desserts, and so forth. Pronunciations are omitted; in this area, it usually pays simply to point to what you want.

A preliminary warning: in using these lists, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly large number of menu terms that you won’t find listed in them. Your bewilderment results from the common practice in European restaurants of adorning menus with fanciful, but totally meaningless, adjectives.

Thus, a simple “wienerschnitzel” (breaded veal cutlet) is rarely described as such in a Munich restaurant; it’s called a “wienerschnitzel Münchner Art” (breaded veal cutlet Munich style), but at heart, it’s a simple breaded veal cutlet. The same literary touches are of ten indulged in by American restaurants, whose menus offer “Shenandoah County Tomato Juice” or “Special Prime-Tested Kansas City Steaks.” Just look for the basic root of the menu term, which is all you’re getting, in any event. Bon Appetit!