Funny Menu Mistakes Around the World
Suzanne Wenz loved one meal in Barcelona so much that she took the menu home with her. It wasn’t so much for the food as it was for the delightfully comedic, Catalan-meets-English listings. “It included a delicious Attack of Chick Peas and for dessert, Strawberries & Scum,” says the executive from Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza. “Of course we had to order it, and I kept the menu as a little souvenir. I always appreciate the effort of a small restaurant to translate their menu into English.”
No doubt, one of the best ways to experience a culture when you’re traveling is to eat in the mom-and-pop, hole-in-wall restaurants, where you can be served the most authentic local cuisine—as well as some of the funniest, most charming, or downright confusing culinary descriptions. Thanks to the well-meaning but non-English-speaking menu scribe, “crab” can easily become “crap,” or “deviled” eggs may be rendered “demonic.” And that advertised “dog menu”…is it a listing of items that a local canine might enjoy for supper, or suppers created using local canines?
What’s a confused diner to do? Perhaps as no surprise, your smartphone can offer some help: the app Word Lens uses your phone’s camera as a scanner to translate French, Spanish, or Italian into English.
Granted, plenty of mangled menus are written by and for English speakers, while other menu problems come from idioms that just don’t translate. While in France, Maryland-based travel writer Judy Colbert thought she was playing it safe to order an American Sandwich, only to learn that it was raw hamburger meat.
And in Turkey recently, New York public relations exec Sherry Smith was puzzled to see Salmon Fog on the menu. She wondered if they meant smoked salmon, she says. “But apparently şiş—pronounced ‘shish’—also means ‘fog’ in Turkish—so it was simply salmon shish kebab.”
There was one another menu item that baffled her too: “Fish Intestine Casserole—I hope that was a mistranslation.”
We’ve rounded up some of the funniest menu mistakes photographed around the world. See for yourself, and if you’ve come across any in your travels, upload the photos to our community and let us in on the joke.
If you get squeamish about raw seafood, worry not: the “fisk” here has been thoroughly deep-died for your convenience.
No discount for you!
Because late-season yellow pee would totally ruin the gravy.
Perhaps the “intolerance” is just a clumsy attempt to cater to food allergies but it takes talent to mistranslate “pasta.”
Please tell us that the reason for Buddy’s sad face has nothing to do with Buddy being on the menu.
But we notice “Hamster” is conspicuously missing from the list.
Glad to see that the salads are Thai-style. You lose so much of the experience when a uterus gets batter-fried British pub–style.
Harsh indeed: wouldn’t you be irritable if someone scalloped your kidneys?
Fried bum? A rather extreme deterrent for loiterers and undertippers.
Perfect for the traveler looking for the ultimate high-protein breakfast. (And do try your whole-meat toast with the marmalade.)
The Brits have a hard enough time selling their quaint foods to newcomers even when typed correctly. Take bacon butty, for instance, or, not pictured here, the dreaded spotted dick (a kind of suet pudding). Bubble and Squead—instead of Squeak—may actually be an aesthetic improvement.
“Waiter, could I get my omelette with the crap on the side?”
It is pretty cool when they spike your coffee.
We’ve long thought that chili should come with a warning label—and a chili served by bears would indeed be a gas.
What happens to unattended tots who wander around the restaurant? See Special No. 16.
Translation: If you just wish hard enough, we might make you lunch.
We always get confused trying to do the math for those euro-to-slut exchange rates.
A dream come true: fruit pie plus someone to organize your laundry while you wait.
In the U.K., beware of any football club that wants to sandwich you.
Remember, kids: say Pease if you want something, and try not to burge at the table.
Do you feel a little intruded upon when waiters come sing “Happy Birthday” really loudly at your table? Then you probably wouldn’t like that “forcemeat.” Or how that stake gets turned into “dried dread.”
Tired of bison or veggie “burjers”? Try the Dobol patties. Dobol meat is so tender, in fact, that it almost never needs chiz.
We know that the French like to put eggs on their pizza, but here’s a handy tip for anyone ordering a pie in Japan: be sure to ask for it “unspitted.”
Ever woken up in the middle of the night with the sudden knowledge that you’ve become possessed, in a sense, by that dinner from a few hours ago? Perhaps “shakey” is how you’ll feel after the exorcism of demonic beef cubes.
We know that hangover remedies vary from country to country. Here in Cambodia, if you’ve done “battle” with your beer, you might try a nice, rehydrating Fanta alongside a comforting plate of deep-fried porn.