There are some dishes that don't have a direct translation (i.e. Peruvian ceviche). There are other like Arroz con Pato than can be translated to something like Rice with Duck. Here's a list from Wikipedia of different peruvian dishes.

It is okay to translate dishes names whenever is possible or the name should stay according to its country of origin?

  • 1
    Use the Spanish term when you want to trick your friends into trying it. :D
    – Flimzy
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 0:58
  • Using the Spanish name makes all my friends think I'm an amazing exotic cook. Like when I tell them I cook 'Arroz con carne y salsa de tomate' which in English sounds really lame =P (I usually end up saying it extravagantly like an Italian for some reason)
    – Kage
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 2:22
  • @Kage You cannot do that with “fish and chips”. =)
    – pferor
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


What should happen is given by many factors, including context and intent. Is it for a restaurant that you need this translation? Is it for a mid-school report? Is it for a deep analysis and further submission to a dedicated culinary magazine?

That said, here are some thoughts:

The country of origin is a bit difficult to know, and a vague question in general. Even the Wikipedia article about ceviche that you mention in your question serves as an example of this. As another example, both Chile and Peru claim the origin of Pisco Sour (that discussion has been particularly popular in the last couple of years, at least here in Chile).

Then you have the spelling. One of the bests restaurants for ceviche in the Peruvian city of Arequipa is called Cebillano, and the corresponding spelling there is cebiche.

You also have your own internal rules as to when to translate certain names (how purist you are). Should New York be translated to Nueva York? Is it Boston Red Sox or Medias Rojas de Boston? Both are OK in a given context. Whichever you choose will be OK if the context is adequate. Same with food and specific dishes.

My personal opinion is that you should avoid translating names of dishes that might not result in a natural description of their contents. Rice with duck is descriptive enough, but perhaps there is an established name for the same plate in the country where you live, or where you want to present your translation, in which case it would be better to use the local name. If the name of the dish is just a fancy or fantasy name, maybe you should keep it (for example, names of drinks), and explain its contents if you can.


I would do what restaurants do, which is, use the original name if there isn't a similar or equal dish in the local country and just proceed to describe the dish, listing the ingredients that is made of and how the dish is served on the table (ie. decorated with herbs, sprinkled with ..., etc).

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