Nothing lost in translation.
I´ve spent all day traslating some abstruse scientific-legal text for J, who´s doing some course, and has no time. Since I know nothing about science, less about law, and so can´t understand a single word of what I´m reading in Spanish, my rendering into English will be pretty disastrous. I guess.
It´s got me thinking that maybe the translators of cookbooks aren´t incompetent. Maybe they´re just very busy, and farm out the stuff to their poor wives, and here we all are, screaming in frustration every time we read something like chile de bonete escocés.
Which brings us to today´s topic, another book review, of a Spanish book, which makes it all so easy. No having to guess just which cut of meat they mean, or where to find what spices. No fruitless search for rhubarb, no hassle over pomengranate molasses.
I´ve illustrated it myself, and that´s always fun. Every time I´m wandering aimlessly and end up, somehow, in the cookbook section of Fnac, I can spend a profitable five minutes rearranging the stuff so that my books are all over the place. I´m so popular with the sales workforce.
The book is Cocinar con Thermomix. It´s written by Gabriela Llamas, who is, among other things, my aunt. And if this looks like nepotism, I promise you, it´s nothing but demographics. I have so many aunts it was just a question of time before one of them wrote a book. But this aunt happens to really know her business, and she´s made a book that will make a big splash, I bet.
It´s meant to complement the users´manual that comes with the Thermomix , so I´m not sure just how wide the audience is for it. It´s selling very well, and is already on the second printing, so I guess more than one would think. Thermomix is very popular in Spain.
As a machine it´s not heartstoppingly beautiful, like the KitchenAid, but it has a lot more uses. You can live a long and happy life without it, but once you´ve tried it, you´re hooked forver. I love mine so much, it´s embarrassing.
You see, the Th. is not very cool. It´s the height of boring bourgois-ness, and associated with the most retro kind of food. The sales pitch, too, is straight out of the Sixties, very redolent of Tupperware parties, with demonstration parties and all. The manual that comes with it is full of fascinating nuggets of information, but they have to be weeded out from pages and pages dedicated to piped canapes decorated with capers. It´s not so chic, no matter how many chefs, Adriá included, reputedly use them in their kitchens.
This book is meant to dispel all that. Forget the goshawful photos, bring on the sleek, suave, sophisticated illustrations ( well, whadyawant me to say?). Never mind the recipes for salmon roulades and "exotic pineapple". Yep, it´s a prawn cocktail inside a hollowed pineapple, what else?
Welcome instead the satay sauce, the roast tomato crumble and the gazpacho jelly.
Th. users are divided into the ones who slavishly follow recipes and cook everything with it, and foodie types, who make flavoured hollandaises and weird chutneys. Both types will find plenty to suit them, and more.The recipes are fun, varied, a good mix of good old fashioned Spanish stuff and more exotic fare, and they work.
I thoroughly recommend the book . I have no royalties on this one, mind, so it all springs from the goodness of my heart, in an effort to improve your lives.
Cocinar con Thermomix. Gabriela Llamas. El Pais Aguilar. ISBN84-03-50411-X . 21€ (ouch!)