Translation musings: Translating cookery books

Jul 13, 2016 | First Edition Translations, Language, Miscellaneous

cookery books“Heat oven to 200 °C.” “Add the ingredients to a big pan.” “Cook for 20 minutes.” – Translating recipe books may seem like a piece of cake, however, in practice the task is far from simple. It involves a huge degree of localisation, thorough research and an experienced project manager who knows exactly what to look for in a recipe.

Here is a little taster of what needs to be carefully considered in a cookery book translation project:

  1. Measurements: When translating a recipe, we always consider the target country, as every country has its own customs when it comes to measurements. For example, in the US cups are often used, while here in the UK we tend to use grams and millilitres.
  2. Oven temperatures: Oven temperatures also need to be localised, depending on the target market or the publisher’s preferences. We need to make sure that the conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius is correct, and some publishers choose to include the Gas Mark, as well.
  3. Ingredients: We often translate cookery books into English and we always take into consideration whether it is intended for the US or the UK market. However, localising a recipe has a bit more to it than knowing that ‘eggplant’ is ‘aubergine’ or that ‘cilantro’ is ‘coriander’. There are certain country-specific ingredients that cannot be found in other places. This is where research plays a huge role: finding a good alternative for a not so readily available ingredient takes time and careful deliberation. Dairy products are good examples. While in German a more general term ‘Sahne’ is often used to describe the type of cream used in cooking, in English recipes one might want to specify whether the cream in question is single cream, double cream or whipping cream…

It might sound like a lot to keep in mind but don’t worry: our expert project managers know their onions and they can advise you if you are in doubt. After working on hundreds of cookery books, we certainly know the recipe for a successful translation!


If you are interested in having a cookery book translated, get in touch for more information or a free estimate.