#ThatTranslatorCanCook Week Seventeen: Tarte Tatin

This week, I decided to give myself a bit of a challenge and make the French classic: Tarte Tatin! I have to admit, although the recipe claimed to be ‘quick and easy’, I struggled to make the caramel! Other than that, the translation process and overall cooking was fairly straightforward.

Translation
This translation came with the usual issues that come with translating recipes from French to English, e.g. the lack of instructions to chop the fruit or pre-heat the oven, lack of detail about what type of sugar or butter, etc. However, apart from that, the recipe was fairly easy to translate.

‘Quick and easy’
This wasn’t exactly a translation issue, but something interesting that came up on Twitter which was then relevant to my translation.

The name of this recipe was ‘Tarte tatin facile et rapide’, which if you render it literally can be translated as: ‘Easy and quick tarte tatin’. Any native speaker of English will immediately be aware that that sounds a little odd. According to Susie Dent, of Countdown Dictionary Corner fame, this is due to a phenomenon called ‘ablaut reduplication’. She explains it in this tweet:

Obviously, both ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ contain an ‘i’ and an ‘e’, but I assume that it must be part of the same phenomenon. Does anyone know?

Cooking
This recipe was trickier than I thought it was going to be! Mostly because making caramel is a pain in the bum!

Butter and sugar in a frying pan

I ended up making the caramel three times and the first two times it caught and burned. This may be because I didn’t follow the instructions because I am impatient and turn the heat up too high (the recipe said cook on a low heat). However, when I tried cooking the butter and sugar on a low heat, it didn’t do anything, even after waiting the five minutes the recipe said it would need to cook.

Caramel bubbling in a saucepan

I ended up cooking it on a medium-low heat, with the sugar in first and the butter on top (the reverse of the recipe) and cooking for about five minutes with it bubbling slightly. I still don’t know if I did it correctly, but it seemed to work!

Uncooked tarte tatin

Then came assembly. Despite the step being omitted in the source text, I peeled the apples, because it appeared to be necessary according to the video that accompanied the recipe.

Cooked tarte tatin

I also wasn’t sure how big a tin I would need, because this was not mentioned in the recipe. In the end I opted for a three egg cake tin which I greased with butter (again, not mentioned in the recipe), because I was worried the caramel would stick!

Slice of tarte tatin

The end result was delicious and appreciated by both my husband and his daughter. We served it with cold crème anglaise, which my husband picked up whilst in France.

Next week: I will be tackling a Middle Eastern favourite, especially in the Levant region.

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a Norfolk-based Arabic and French > English translator and languages tutor.

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