Foodictionary: Tongue and Lengua at the Tip of Your Finger

Price: $4.99  Score 8/10  By Jose Ralat MaldonadoFoodictionary :: International Food & Beverage Translator

I thought I wouldn’t need to brush up on my food Spanish before honeymooning in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina and a carnivore’s rumpus room. I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. (And I’m a native speaker!) Had either the iPhone or iPad Touch been available then, I wouldn’t have needed to furtively glanced at the accompanying English-language translations and gotten flack from new bride (who also should’ve known better, being Latina). Foodictionary :: International Food & Beverage Translator by Magenta would certainly have been on my must-download list of apps.

As I already noted, I am a Spanish speaker. This review of Foodictionary will use examples from the Spanish-English translations. However, I know enough Italian to state that the my observations ring true for that language, and, by extension, all the languages contained in this food-translation application.

With seven languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and Greek) a tap of the figure away, the translations available are exhaustive and should make Foodictionary the bread-and-butter food-translation app for those traveling to countries where the seven European languages are prevalent. But Foodictionary can serve more than those jetsetters and backpackers traveling abroad, as the developer states on it’s iTunes App Store page. It’s of practical use in areas of the United States where some restaurants (mostly Mexican) don’t have English-language menus.

The breadth of the information is impressive. For each of the seven languages accessible, there are 12,5000 terms in over 40 categories. The categories don’t stop at appetizers, proteins, desserts and beverages, either. Foodictionary goes the extra mile, including categories for cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork and veal), spices (e.g., clavél/clove) and terms for style of preparation (a la parrilla/grilled). If you take a fancy to a particular dish, Foodictionary allows the user to save entries as favorites. Let’s say, you’re in Spain and were surprised by the richness of the lasaña de salami puré de ajo (salami lasagne with garlic purée). Save the entry, take the time to memorize it, or when you walk into another restaurant show the captain or waiter the listing by way of requesting the plate.

Of course, with such breadth (12,500 terms per tongue), some nuance and phrases are expected to be lost down Foodictionary‘s drain. Under meat, beef is listed as Vaca.  Yes, vaca is cow in Spanish, and beef comes from cows. However, carne and carne de res are the general terms for beef. And there are more errors, and some are whoppers. Under beverages, hot water is egregiously mistranslated as agua fría. Fría means cold in Spanish. Not hot. Hot is caliente. This error is so not caliente. There are also duplicate listings for terms (e.g., a la parrilla).

While there are mistakes in Foodictionary, the app overall is a tool that will lead to much joyous dining. The entries would also benefit greatly from images.  Pictures would allow the user a fuller experience akin to the experience of eating — that is, multisensory.  Also, the addition of Chinese to the language database would be a welcomed in the next update. China is an economic and culture powerhouse, attracting businessmen and post-grads, alike. Besides, if you’re in a Chinatown hole in the wall, maybe you could finally decipher the Chinese-only menus tacked on the wall.

Before you book a flight to visit Lenin’s tomb or the Acropolis or to any place where the languages included in this app are spoken, do your stomach a favor — download Foodictionary. Bon apetito!

Foodictionary requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch. A small fee was paid by the developer to expedite the publication of this review.

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