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Making a Meal of Globalization

Explaining globalization through cuisine

Perhaps we are tired of hearing in the media that we live in the era of ‘globalization’, a very cool term that was born at the beginning of this millennium and which tries to define the recent links being established between different cultures around the globe.

Please let me quote the definitions for globalization given by the two main dictionaries in the English language: one from the UK and one from the USA. According to the Oxford Dictionary, globalization is ‘the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

On the other hand, the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines globalization as:

“the act or process of globalizing: the state of being globalized; especially: the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets”

As you can see, these definitions refer to that idea I mentioned above, linking cultures since the beginning of the millennium. However, I totally disagree and I find a lot of reasons to explain my disappointment at the time of reading those definitions, but I would like to focus my arguments on the world of cuisine. Probably you can also disagree with my point of view, but I strongly believe that food is (and has been since the first hominid on earth) the most important thing for creating affective links. Let me explain myself.

Let’s travel back, to the very beginning of humanity. Imagine two different tribes which at some point for some reason find each other during a migration trip (remember those were nomads). They had two options: fight or try to establish any kind of human relationship. Both options are really primary in humans, but humanity has grown since then due to living in society, our nature is to gather all together and socialize. Without sharing a common language and probably without even speaking, what do you think would one of their first reactions be? I’m pretty sure they would share food.

I won’t make a revision now of the history of humanity but, even today, we continuously use food to establish good relationships between humans. Businessmen meet to have lunch or dinner at the time of signing an agreement or as a sign of a good relationship or understanding. The same happens when we invite our friends or couple to have dinner at home or when the family gathers together to celebrate something (birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc.) Food is always involved in human relationships.

However, I want to go further, and once made this (long) introduction I want to depict the role of translators in the world globalization of food. This was the subject of my Final Degree’s dissertation and, as a fanatic cooker and translator, something in which I have been interested in forever.

Displaying a good translation of the restaurant’s web page or the menu items becomes essential nowadays to spread the influence of your restaurant globally and bring new customers to you. But…why should the restaurant manager pay for a translation service whilst for such simple and literal translations like these he can use machine translation utilities? You can see how disastrous could be the output by looking some articles below in this blog (Go Global With Wolfestone Translation: The Crashed Ferrari Coffee Table) and the bad reputation this would bring to a restaurant.

Foreign customers would not feel confident in that restaurant, as they have not got a clue about what they are ordering or eating. But the problems do not only come at the customer level: in some cases, work-permit applications for restaurants or hotels (hospitality services in general) can be rejected not because a low level of skills or services they provide, but for bad translation of their menus, which create confusions or mistrusts on them.

Furthermore, at a higher level, this lack of confidence can bring worse consequences. As far as I know, the Michelin Star Standard is the best international award a restaurant can receive, therefore it is essential for that restaurant to sell their product in an attractive but loyal way in order to attract new customers and display bigger and better services. The practice of fine cuisine is global and I base this opinion in all the arguments I gave in the introduction above, and as global should be treated; it is necessary to count on a good and reliable translation service provider.

To conclude and take distance from the previous issues, I would like to say that despite what the media would say, English, money, or mathematics are not true global methods of communicating. All of them have been invented throughout human history, but only food has been out there since the beginning. So, despite the differences between countries around the globe at the time of cooking, let’s enjoy together one of the best pleasures in life: food. When finishing these lines, don’t forget to pick up the phone and gather with friends and loved ones to forget about problems and share a nice time.


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