La traduzione è servita! (Translation is served!) is a project on cultural thematics and translation. The surveys on flowers and gardens, landscapes, and kisses have already appeared. This research on food narrative in translation features over a hundred authors, translators and multiple translations (Italian, English, other languages) from a selected corpus of travel literature, adventure stories, fairy tales, diaspora narrative, menus and advertising. The Nordic-Protestant world and the Mediterranean denote a cultural distance and difference in the treatment of food narratives and translations: no liquors or coffee for Pinocchio, no wine in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket.
How much of a sweet aroma and mysterious scent remains once the food is ‘delivered’ from one language to another, for example from French and Italian into English? Regional cuisines offer a panorama full of surprises in the dynamics of globalization versus localization.
Diachronic and diatopic variations are taken into account. In 2000, in Portorož [Slovenia] the phonetic calque Picerja was frequent: in 2021 it is Pizzeria. In the multilingual scenario of South Africa, there is a Col’Cacchio Pizzeria with restaurants located throughout South Africa and in Windhoek, Namibia. The Dutch-French Caribbean island of Saint Martin advertizes in English an Istrian Cuisine Restaurant.
Cuisine and culinary lexicon know no boundaries, and the horizon is expanding with world cross-cultural contacts. How much Arabic are the Sicilian sweets and cakes in The Leopard? Lidia Bastianich and her scungilli in Manhattan is an interesting instance. The story of the Melting Pot or Big Apple is full of meanings and symbols. Otherwise, why would James Hillman ‘translate’ Freud’s Own Cookbook? And why would Woody Allen eat scapece? If in Manhattan it is imported from Naples, the term is also recorded in the Caribbean dictionary. In fact, it has a Spanish-Arabic semantic matrix.
Regarding England, the Italian foot-ball journalist Gianni Brera was abrasive on “Albion refined on the football fields, but barbaric at the table”. Was it true? Who would have suspected back in 1937 that batter required “attacking with vivacious turbulence” for an English chef? Today, with the Books for Cooks restaurant and Royal China Albion is the heart of refinement, with culinary icons like Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Olivier writing about Umbrian cuisine.
The book offers a vast range of diversity in translating and interpreting. Each culture has its own symbols and metaphors in the description of food: it is not always easy to interpret them and bake them from one cast into to another. Nevertheless, it contributes to introducing critical analysis comparative on descriptive themes between language pairs, language contact, globalization and localization, identity and food topophilia.
Review Corrado Arnaudo: TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction. Figures du
traducteur/Figures du traduire, 19(1), 2006: 230-232.