Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lost in Translation

As is the case with the majority of restaurants in the tourist areas of large European cities, the menus in Rome come in English, as well as the languages of other countries that supply tourists in large numbers. On this trip, we’ve seen our first menus in Russian. (Oligarchs gotta eat, too.)

Sometimes we don’t quite get the menu translations – the other night we ate in a restaurant that offered spaghetti on a guitar, which was how they translated spaghetti made with a chitarra pasta cutter – but mostly you can parse out what’s what. (This menu translation is a nicety not generally found in the US, that’s for sure, where it’s pretty much sink or swim with respect to getting around in English.)

Anyway, the other evening, on the recommendation of a friend, we had looked in at Nino’s, which is a couple of blocks from where we’re staying. We didn’t have reservations, so couldn’t get in, but put it on our “possible” list.

I went online to see if we could book a reservation, and clicked on Bing translation:

Nino at via Borgognona, always full, a little noisy, boil the beans in the entrance fiasco, the wood-panelled, ultra efficient waiters race, some prominent character, a table of the incredulous and excited, Japanese steak, red wines.

Well, talk about everything I love in the dining out experience, starting with “always full, a little noisy.”

I have been hungering for a place where they “boil the beans in the entrance fiasco”, if only for the little frisson when the boiling beans turn into a fiasco, as boiling beans have been known to do.

The boiling bean fiasco is, perhaps, why the waiters are “wood-panelled”. Boiling beans could cut right through polyester black pants, but, with wood paneling, it takes a while to soak in. I would think, however, that might be difficult for the “ultra efficient” waiters to “race” while encased in wood panels. So it’s no wonder that those tables full of Japanese steaks are “incredulous and excited.” I would be, too, if I got to watch wood-paneled waiters racing – likely to escape that fiasco of boiling beans.

The restaurant is said alone, was opened in the 1930s by Nino and Mario Guarnacci, patron, which brought together with local dishes all the sympathy of Tuscany.

This is a relief. If there’s going to be a boiling bean fiasco, I’ll take mine with Tuscan sympathy.

Among the specialities impossible not to try the ribollita, bistecca alla fiorentina, beans to the fiasco, the spinach pie with chicken livers and marriage.

I had figured that “beans to the fiasco” would be one of the specialties”, but, oh, that “spinach pie with chicken livers and marriage.”

I’m not a huge fan of liver, but I do like spinach pie, and I’m intrigued by the notion of it coming with marriage. That would, indeed, be impossible not to try. (The Google translation gets this one as “flan with spinach and liver chestnut,” which, while equally incomprehensible, is not nearly as intriguing as “spinach pie with chicken livers and marriage.”)

Discover the Menu!


Bookings are recommended.

I’ll say!

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