Running, cooking and translating… but not all at once!

I do rather like multi-tasking, mainly as there never seems to be enough hours in a day or week to reach the bottom of my to-do list! However, I only like multi-tasking if I can do it without affecting the quality of each task! 

I was out running this morning, enjoying the sun on the Welsh hills, as it has been rather scarce lately! While I ran, I was catching up on some Spanish language time by listening to the end of episode 230 from El Último Runner, Radio MARCA’s weekly running podcast, presented by Natalia Freire.

Resident trainer, Franc Beneyto, was talking about training strategies mile, 3km and 5km running races. He stressed the importance of training slowly —of not always training at top speed — to become a better runner, to perform better in the race.

There are times to train fast, to do intervals, hill repeats, fartleks, just like there is a time and a place in our busy lives for quicker meals cooked from scratch. Franc Beneyto said something that has been turning over in my head ever since. “los mejores caldos se hacen a fuego lento”. 

‘Caldo’ is a traditional homemade chicken stock, a base for so many traditional meals. ‘Caldo’ can also be a soup. I have been pondering how I would translate the phrase as it is so bound in Spanish culture. However, within the context of running, and translating for a British audience, I eventually decided on “the best homemade stocks need time and a low heat”. I’d be interested in hearing suggestions from fellow translators. ‘Caldo’ is the essential base ingredient for so many regional varieties of soup. The ingredients vary from region to region but the simplest recipe I found from http://www.aspoonfulofspain.com included chicken carcass, water, leek, potato, onion, and carrot. 

At home I make super-powered chicken stock by freezing carcasses and making batches of stock with three or four at a time, including onion, carrot, celery, bouquet-garni and any other vegetable leftovers lurking in the bottom of the fridge! I thin freeze it in portion sized pots, ready to elevate everyday dishes to a new level. One of the many valuable lessons that lock-down has taught me is that seasonal, quality, locally sourced ingredients taste better. But the effect of time on these ingredients is almost magical.

A picture containing food, table, coffee, cup

Description automatically generated
Image shows a bowl of chicken stock and cooking pot.
Image from shutterstock.com/ Tatiana Volgutova

I love winter-warming dishes. They take time, and time means that they need more love. It is possible to make these dishes quickly using the same ingredients — or even buy them ready-made — but they do not taste the same. Rushed, they are better than edible, but always somewhat of a disappointment. A rushed dish can never reproduce the unctuous delight you dream about whilst it cooks. These homemade dishes, cooked low and slow, keep improving the longer they are cooked. 

At the weekend, I often start cooking a casserole or Bolognese in the morning to give it the time it needs and the time it deserves. The luxury of time is not something we often have in our busy lives but investing extra time and love in a dish is always worth the effort.

It struck me that this is also true of translation. Translations can be done extremely quickly now with the advances in Machine Translation and the latest developments in Neural Machine Translation. But depending on the quality of the machine translation, a human translator is always needed to perfect the output.

The best translations take time. They need the right ingredients. They need quality ingredients. The best translations need to be ‘cooked slowly’. They need to be ‘tasted’ and then ‘seasoned’ appropriately and skilfully for the intended audience. A translator could perform a translation quickly, but they would know that just like a ‘caldo’, it would have been better with more time. 

Over time, the ‘flavours’ of the translation can develop into something exquisite. The best translations take time to hone, craft and perfect… like the best ‘caldos’. The best translations impact their audience, reflecting the quality of the business or author they represent. 

If you want the best translation, not just a good translation, give it time – it is worth the wait. The text your translator delivers at the end will exceed your expectations, and hopefully, just like the best ‘caldo’ cooked on low heat, it will leave you asking if there is more in the pot!

#translation #cooking #running #spanish #multitasking #language #podcast #español

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