Grilled Flesh… YUM!
When I lived here in Soriano, I was, quite simply, ‘The American”. In fact, the immigrant population of the area consisted of me, two Brits and a Brazilian. Outside of that, nobody spoke a word of English. My, how things can change over the course of 20+ years.
A few years ago a company bought a beautiful palace in the town and converted it into a hotel, which is marketed toward Brits and Americans. One night I was eating in one of the local cafes, and every table surrounding mine was occupied by Brits and Americans. It just felt wrong. 20 years ago, I used to eat at this place regularly. It was a little place for the locals. Now they even have an English menu.
So what of this ‘ENGLISH MENU’?
This is not the only place to have one. Every restaurant and cafe in town has a translated menu. The problem is that the rush of english-speaking tourists is new to them, and they haven’t quite gotten their act together yet. Every menu in town is poorly translated. For example, one place (this one beats all in the bad translation contest) offers ‘Bistecca alla griglia’. The correct translation is ‘Grilled Steak’. Unfortunately, whoever it was that looked up the word ‘Bistecca’ made a critical error, as they translated it to ‘FLESH‘. So, while in Soriano Nel Cimino, you can order Grilled Flesh at a local cafe. Tasty! Other menu items to be found include ‘Pizza’s Pocket’ (for Calzone), ‘Tomato’s Cherry’ for ‘Cherry Tomatoes’, etc. It goes on and on.
I think whoever is doing the translations is having a blast with Babelfish. The problem is that this covers official translations as well. You will find placards next to historical monuments that have unintelligible descriptions. For example, the town tourist board’s home page offers this delightful description of Soriano nel Cimino:
“The lucky hilly position, the mild climate, the wood’s healthy air, together with its history, arts and tradition, make Soriano nel Cimino the ideal place where to spend a serene and pleasant stay or a vacation in every season”
One would think they might find someone that actually speaks English (Hey look! There is Michael!)… We do exist, after all. Hmmm, no, not Michael… He speaks ‘American’, not English. Ugh!
Nonetheless, it is all part of the charm and certainly makes for great fun.
Co-Founder of Culture Discovery Vacations. I am a native American from Los Angeles that has been living with one foot in Italy and the other in the US for more than 30 years. I usually write about oddities I see in Italian culture from an American perspective, and the humor I find in it. However, after decades of living in both countries, I often see the reverse as well. That is, where the Italians got it right, and we can certainy learn from them!