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I have a friend translating a menu and she would like to know how best to translate dishes that are from a certain region vs dishes where the main ingredient comes from a particular place. Names like 'Taiwanese Chicken' could be interpreted as either the chicken is from Taiwan, or the dish is cooked in a Taiwanese style. I would think in that example most people would assume it means chicken cooked in Taiwanese style. For other dishes e.g. 'Australian Wagyu Beef Tenderloin Carpacio', I would interpret it as the beef being from Australia. I can think of other examples which I could interpret either way e.g. 'Italian Goats Cheese Salad'.

Obviously it's possible to put down 'X cooked in a Y style', or 'Y style X', but both of these sound clunky to me.

Im not even sure how I would clearly indicate I'm talking about the ingredient case either - I can only think of something like 'Noodles with Taiwanese Chicken', which still feels a little ambiguous, and indicates incorrectly that the noodles are more important.

My questions are: - Is this really as ambiguous as I think? Do you need to know the context of the dish to understand? - Is there a better way to express that the place refers to the style of the dish? - How best to indicate that the place refers to the ingredient (whilst keeping it as the first ingredient in the title)?

  • Names of dishes become standardised. Wikipedia has a list of dishes named after places (though they may not be more closely associated, eg 'Baked Alaska'). Care needs to be taken in inventing new proper nouns, as (1) confusion, (1b) homonymy and (2) lawsuits may ensue. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 '15 at 18:21
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To me as a diner, my interpretation would come down to whether I associate the adjective more strongly with a particular cuisine (e.g. Thai fish cakes) or raw produce (New Zealand lamb).

I know Thailand as a region that has a distinct cookery style, though I don't associate it with particular ingredients. The inverse is true for New Zealand.

The exception for me would be dishes that I associate with a country by default: tiramisu is an Italian recipe, so if you took the effort to qualify it as "Italian tiramisu" I'd assume you'd flown it in from Italy :)

Generally I'd say use "Taiwanese Chicken", but if you want to be 100% clear, add a descriptive sentence underneath the heading:

Taiwanese Chicken

Taiwanese style fried chicken, prepared with chilli and basil and served with rice

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    I think I have to agree, understanding the context is required to understanding exactly what the dish is. The descriptive does help to clarify. – Brian Flynn Jun 24 '15 at 16:26
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In the catering business, they sometimes use

"a la "

or, better,

"à la"

(with the accent)

It comes from French, and literrally means "in the style/manner of".

It's short, well known and it's part of the English and American thesaurus http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/a-la?showCookiePolicy=true

If you put Chicken a la Tawainese , nobody will have any doubts on the meaning.

  • Agree that that's the meaning, but it sounds odd to me when used outside of 'classical' recipes – anotherdave Jun 22 '15 at 18:13
  • @anotherdave And 'chicken à la king' doesn't? It's probably the best workaround: "in the style/manner of" sounds worse, and ambiguities should be avoided. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 '15 at 18:22
  • @Edwin Ashworth — What I mean is, Chicken à la king is the name of a known dish. I think "Chicken à la Brazil" would sound odd – anotherdave Jun 22 '15 at 19:09
  • @anotherdave Almost everything new sounds odd. While it's still new. 'Chicken à la king' still sounds odd to me (la king?). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 '15 at 19:10
  • @Edwin Ashworth true! I guess if the OP is inventing a house dish rather than cooking something existing would come into it too. – anotherdave Jun 22 '15 at 19:42

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