Muffled prawns, please: the best Spanish menu ever.

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Theresa

Oh, how we laughed. It’d been a long time since any of us had browsed such an inscrutable menu.  We worked out most of the items, though we did have a problem with ‘black poplars’ (the bilingual among you, start racking your brains …).

I won’t spoil your fun. Here is a sample of the dishes on offer at a local fish restaurant in Rincón de la Victoria. Read, ponder, and then check your answers.

  • Tomatoes rotten
  • Muffled prawns
  • Iberian prey
  • Stewed of sprouts
  • Thin shells
  • Kinds of anchovy to the lemon
  • Black poplars
  • Profiteroles (balls of chocolate you refill of scum) – I am NOT making this up.

Right. Stop laughing hysterically and read on.

  • Tomate picado. Pues, claro. Picado means ‘chopped up’ but can also mean ‘gone off’, ‘over-ripe’, ‘rotten’. The entry should have simply read: tomato salad.
  • Gambas rebozadas. An easyish one if you’re familiar with this popular dish: prawns dipped in a mixture of egg and flour and water or beer and deep-fried. In other words: battered prawns. Rebozar, in a cooking sense,  means ‘to coat in batter’. However, the first definition in the RAE is: Cubrir casi todo el rostro con la capa o manto: cover almost all the face with a cloak.  So, rebozado also means ‘cloaked’ – or ‘muffled?
  • Presa Ibérica. A literal translation of the Spanish does indeed give us Iberian prey.  But we wouldn’t say ‘prey’; we would say ‘game’. Or not. A quick look at the translation site tells me that ‘presa’ actually refers to a cut from the frontal shoulder of a pig. So the menu should have read something like this: Presa Ibérica (pork shoulder cuts).
  • Coles. Brussel sprouts. Go figure.
  • Conchas finas. Very LOL moment in the restaurant on twigging this one. Something of a delicacy here in Málaga, conchas finas are large mollusks that you jazz up with salt and pepper and lemon and slurp down in an oyster-like fashion. Concha means ‘shell’; fina, ‘thin’. How should they appear on the menu? Perhaps like this: Conchas finas (giant clams).
  • Boquerones al limon. An obvious one, but I just loved the literal ‘to the lemon’, a clear companion to ‘to the iron’ (a la plancha) and ‘in a seaman-like fashion’ (a la marinera).
  • Chopos en su tinta. Geddit??? This one is SURREAL. Chopos, of course, are small squids, so ‘squid in ink’ would have done it. But ‘black poplars’? Ah yes, ink is black and chopos are also a kind of tall skinny tree …
  • Profiteroles are profiteroles are profiteroles. But, no, this restaurant thought we might not know and so added what has to be my favourite menu translation ever: ‘you refill of scum’? Well, I don’t think I’ll bother this time. I suppose it comes from ‘relleno’ – filled with (or ‘you refill’, whatever) and, and what? The only thing I can think of is ‘relleno de espuma’ – filled with foam – or, if the chef’s in a bad mood, scum.

Bon appetit.

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14 Responses to “Muffled prawns, please: the best Spanish menu ever.”

  1. Maddy Says:

    Love this menu!!! My favourite menu translation was in a ‘chiringüito’ in El Palo, ‘Rape con tomate’ was ‘Rape with tomatoes’ in English… We played safe and ordered the calamares!!

  2. Valerie Says:


    ‘you refill’ presumably is ‘rellenas’ from leonesas rellenas (adjective) but machine-translated as the 2nd person singular of the verb.

  3. Mo Says:

    Definitely machine translation. The question is, what kind of machine?

  4. Alex Says:

    There’s a mistake inside the mistake. I mean, in Spanish, those “little squids” are not “chopos” but “chocos”. So they don’t know how to call them (nor write it) even in Spanish.

    Best regards from Spain. :o)

  5. Theresa Says:

    But chopo is a kind of squiddy / cuttle-fishy thing, too. And I know they are called different things in different parts of Spain. There are quite a few recipes out there for chopos a la plancha / en su tinta etc. Certainly in Malaga you hear ‘chopos’ and ‘chopitos’. I’d never heard of ‘chocos’ until I went to Cadiz. Maybe it’s a mispronunciation thing that has ended up being a ‘real’ word.

    RAE: chopo3.
    (De choco, jibia).
    1. m. And. Variedad de jibia.

  6. Tamara Says:

    And my all-time favourite …. The heading “Vino en botella” should have been translated as “Wine by the bottle” but instead was printed as “He came in a Bottle” !!! MMmmm, lovely … 🙁

  7. Theresa Says:

    Fantastic! I’m gonna nick as a snippet fro the fab snippet.

  8. Maxine Says:

    I have a daily helping of these mistakes (currently doing some consultancy work at NATO HQ in Madrid). We have young garlic for ajetes and the other day I was wondering whether to have BBQ ribcage (costillas) or not. Also can’t work out why one weekly special is Gordon Blue (presumably cordon bleu).

  9. Karen Martinez Says:

    Pig’s trotters translated as ” minister hand in sauce” I have seen this several times so must use the same web translator.

  10. Valerie Says:

    LOL. How on earth did they manage that?

  11. Valerie Says:

    Thanks for these hilarious ones, Maxine.

  12. Theresa Says:

    Oh yes, I’ll have some BLue Gordon, please! Love it! Just remembered another one I saw the other day: sangre frita – fried blood, aka morcilla, blood sausage or black pudding. Bucket, please.

  13. Pelayo Says:

    Dear Theresa,
    I have a “another turn of the screw” to your entry which happned to my in Scotland. Working as tour guide with a group of Spanyards I was given a translated menu of the dinner we had that night. Do not ask me which means they used to translate the menu I suspect they got help from Mr. Groucho MArx or someone of the kind. So I´m not going to spoil your fun… Here we go with some gems:
    Starter: La sopa de la lenteja hecha en casa del cocinero sirvió con pan caliente.
    Starter II: Ventilador del melon…
    Main: Costilla de la carne asada de la carne de la vaca!
    Main II: Vehículos amargos con arroz cocidos al vapor.
    Dessert: Profiteroles llenados con la salsa rica del caramelo.
    Dessert II: Torta ducle de azucar con crema de la colada fresca.
    As I said to my group: Enjoy your dinner

  14. Theresa Says:

    Oh yes, bitter vehicles for me please!

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