In my journey of discovering and trying out recipes from different countries and cultures, I often come across different measuring units and making a wrong conversion can make a recipe go downhill pretty quickly. One time I made the mistake of thinking a “cup” meant the same thing no matter where you are, and my cake was looking really sad at the end.
This goes beyond the unit used in each part of the world, like ounces or milliliters, the definition of how much fits into a measuring apparatus, such as a cup or a spoon can change depending on where you look. I just did a quick search for how much fits in a “cup”, and got these answers: 240 ml, 200 ml, 250 ml. If you’re new to the culinary world, my tip for you is to always follow recipes that list the measuring units and preferably offer multiple options, and always use a scale.
Converting a measuring unit to fit what we locally use can be considered part of the localization process – in a way, it’s just like a translation of a word or phrase. Localization is the process of adapting language to a local culture’s norms and expectations, and is critical when we’re trying to use language as a bridge between different cultures.
Fun fact, even the word LOCALIZATION can be localized, written as “localization” in American English, and “localisation” in British English.
A recipe that is really popular in my home, perhaps due to its easy process, yet brings impressive results and flavors, is Shakshuka. Its exact origins are debated, but this is a dish that came from the Middle Eastern region of the world, and is composed of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato base.
In Portuguese, my native language, Shakshuka is written as Xacxuca. While in German it is Schakschuka, and in in Arabic شَكْشُوكَةٌ — just a few fun examples of how popular this dish is across many cultures.
A very similar recipe to Shakshuka is “Eggs in Purgatory” which originates from Italy. Despite the “purgatory” in its name, the main difference between Shakshuka and Eggs in Purgatory is that the spices used in the latter are milder!
One thing is certain, despite the widely disputed origins of these dishes, they are staples in many homes around the world. With food being such a strong cultural expression, it’s not surprising that it carries a lot of local baggage and significance.
Localization – a recipe for more inclusive media
The recipe name variations based on locations is very close to what I mentioned earlier, about how the localization process is all about adapting language to certain cultures, often related to a location. It’s very interesting to note local variations, how they can reflect so much of the culture of the people from that place, especially in language.
A sad cake can be part of the journey, but localizing ingredient measurements is a recipe for deliciousness. Localization is very important for the enjoyment of not only cooking, but also for all types of media. It facilitates enjoyment and increases accessibility. A translation team made up of native speakers is a great guarantee of always having the best localization possible (and that’s what we have in Amara, in our Amara On Demand team!).