Spectacular Misfires In Menu Translation
When faced with a restaurant menu in Italian, or French, I can usually pick my way through in a rudimentary fashion and figure out what is being offered. Of course, when faced with a menu written in Chinese or Japanese characters, I don’t have a prayer. Fortunately, the proprietors of such restaurants, both here and abroad, will often provide a translation of the menu. While such efforts have good intentions, there are times when something gets lost in the translation.
This may not necessarily be the fault of the translators – from what I understand, the names of many traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes often contain regional in-jokes, or cultural or historical references that are lost on Westerners. Of course, in other instances, it may just be a poor or sloppy translation. There was a Chinese restaurant in my old neighborhood that ran “stir fried baby” as a daily chef’s special. Obviously this falls into the latter category.
Here is a selection of some of more spectacular misfires in translation of menus (and other food items), collected from the expanses of the intertubes for your viewing pleasure (click on the image to enlarge if the print is too small to read).
If that’s not enough for you, you can go here to witness the mother of all poorly translated menus.