Tanya Steel
Editor in Chief, Epicurious.com

Translating International Recipes

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Problems of converting grams and ingredients for an American cook.

Tanya Steel

Tanya Steel is a well-known food writer and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning food Web site, Epicurious.com. Before joining Epicurious, Steel was the New York Editor of Bon Appetit magazine, where she wrote columns and features. Ms. Steel won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Magazine Restaurant Review or Critique, 2003. She is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a James Beard Restaurant Judge. Prior to Bon Appétit, she was an editor at Diversion, Food & Wine, and Mademoiselle magazines. In recent years, Steel created the charity program Wine. Dine. Donate. to combat hunger in conjunction with America's Second Harvest.  Steel is the co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids, which was published in late 2008. 


Tanya Steel: International recipes really kind of pose a problem . . . not a problem for us, but it’s definitely something that we take a lot more time with because they are often untranslated.  Even if they’re translated into English, the presumption of knowledge or ingredients is a problem sometimes.  So we really try to pad in a lot of time for international recipes, and we usually try to use experts on those cuisines that are actually either American or have lived in America.  So we have a working knowledge of what Americans use on a day-to-day level.  So for instance Asian recipes can be very difficult.  And even 10 years ago finding something like. . .  or . . . which are both kind of fish . . . fish paste were very difficult.  And oftentimes when I worked at other magazines, we’d say, “Oh we can’t . . . we can’t use this recipe because people will never be able to find this.”  Now 10 years later people can find these ingredients, so that’s one easier thing.  But it is very difficult when we’re using . . . when we’re commissioning recipes from around the world because they’re also using different measurements, and grams, and that chef may not have converted it correctly.  So it can be very challenging, but that’s why we go through such a rigorous testing of recipes.

Recorded on 1/17/08