Lost in Translation


Unless you know a second language or your family’s mother tongue, you really cannot grasp the the full meaning of “lost in translation”.

Every time I visit Greece I encounter a new, warped translation, funny spelling flubs or something literally translated from Greek to English.

On the Greek Islands, you will often find very helpful wait staff who are eager to take your order.

“Yes Please”?, asks the waiter…he/she has offered to be of service to you. The Greek way of saying “may I help you” is “Parakalo” but often literally translated as “YES PLEASE”.

Greece is nowhere near perfect when it comes to serving it’s tourists but at least you’ll often be greeted by a menu that will show the restaurant’s offerings in your language (something I found to be absent in many other tourist destinations).

You might, however, still have some difficulty reading the English menu as some food items get, well…lost in translation.

Greeks are apt to offer a menu of Greek classics and and some international dishes to appease the homesick traveler. I often see “Gordon Blue” on such menus.

I’ve seen in in the Greek Islands, in Athens and around Thessaloniki. Gordon Blue.

I think that many Greek proprietors, in their haste to add an international dish and keep up with their competition, have hastily copied a menu item lost in translation, such as the Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Cordon Bleu is a stuffed chicken breast that’s rolled and usually filled with ham and Swiss cheese.

I’ve had this dish often when grabbing a quick lunch away from home but I was triggered by the memory of seeing “Gordon Blue” in Greece and I thought I’d save you all the trouble from ordering it if you go there (Greece).

Folks, if you’re going to travel to some new, foreign land…for heaven’s sake…embrace the local cuisine. I cringe when I see folks from the west cramming into a McD’s or ordering something off the menu like a fast-food chain burger.

Try the local cuisine. Ask the server for help with choosing your order. Ask for the specials. The day’s features are usually of fresh, seasonal produce and you’re going to get a dish that’s probably made with some heart from the kitchen staff.

Meanwhile, back here in Canada…I’m 6 months away from taking my vacation and I do still enjoy trying out different cuisines and some old classics. Chicken Cordon Bleu is easy, it’s healthy and it looks snazzy for a weeknight meal.

The Cordon Bleu did not remain as a leftover meal. The chicken breast was moist, some ham gave it a taste contrast and the Swiss some tang. I enjoyed the cream sauce (which actually didn’t need much cream) and I finished it off with some chopped tarragon.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 slices of Swiss cheese
4 slices of ham
some toothpicks
1/4 cup flour
slat and pepper
1 tbsp sweet paprika
Wax paper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
3 Tsp. dry tarragon

  1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken fillets. Butterfly each chicken breast (Place chicken breast on the cutting board with thickest part furthest from you).
  2. With a sharp meat knife, slicing away from you, cut horizontally through the breast meat with out cutting all the way through so that you have one large thin piece of breast.)
  3. Lay Swiss cheese on half of the breast. Top with ham. Roll up breast starting with the cheese side. Use a tooth pick to secure the end to the roll. Sprinkle flour and paprika onto a piece of wax paper and roll the breast until coated.
  4. Place in hot oil, working from the outside of the pan in. Keep turning until all sides are brown. Remove from pan. Pour wine and chicken stock into the pan and completely deglaze (get all the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan).
  5. Return chicken to pan. Cover and simmer, at low, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the cream and reduce for another 5 minutes, until thick. Stir in your tarragon and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve with potatoes or rice and mixed vegetables.

© 2008,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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26 Comments for “Lost in Translation”

Peter G

says:

LOL! Very funny! I actually work with Gordon Blue! Mmmm…looks tasty Peter. Great creations as usual.

RecipeGirl

says:

Ha! Our Russian friends also share funny stories of literal translations to English. Funny stuff :)

This looks delicious!

Marjie

says:

Your statements about helpful Greek waitstaff remind me of the ad line in Crazy People, “Forget France. The French can be annoying. Come to Greece; we’re nicer.”

I find that to be true with the French or Greeks here, too!

And I too make Chicken Cordon Bleu often – love it!

Bellini Valli

says:

Definitely have to try the local cuisine whenever you travel. I love chicken cordon bleu..haven’t made it in a while. Thanks for the reminder :D

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Hi Peter, normally a meal like this would have me drooling over the keyboard, but somehow we have lost our taste for meat – any meat. Maybe it is our bodies telling us to take a bit of a break.This is however my father’s favorite chicken dish.
I think it was the movie “Shirley Valantine” that has created this romantic vision I have of Greece, but I sure hope it will be like that when I get their one day.

Laurie Constantino

says:

This was one of my mom’s specialties, so thank you for a wave of memories. I love menu bloopers!

Núria

says:

Parakalo is the word I heard the most while I spent my holidays in Greece many years ago… I wish I had tried this Cordon blue! Now I’ve got the recipe… It’s like Magic. Thanks!
By the way, this sauce looks extraplanetary!!!

Happy cook

says:

Wow you are a one hell of a cook.
I do agree if you go to a foreign country eat the local food.
When we were in Egypt we went to some of the local eateries and i must say they were the best food i have ate. Ofcourse i also went to the Mac twice that is not that bad as we stayed there for 3 weeks .

Peter M

says:

Pete, Gordon Blue is like Elvis in Greece…he’s everywhere!

Lori, please blog about it someday…humour is always good with food.

Marjie, I’ll have to see about seeing that movie, thx!

Kevin, the paprika does help with the browning of the meat.

Elly, I’m looking forward to your blog event…rock n’ roll!

Nina, Shirley Valentine is a fabulous play and movie.

Laurie, that’s a good way to put it…menu bloopers!

Nuria, the sauce has Estragon!

Happy, see? Trying out the local cuisine heightens your vacation experience.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

says:

That is so funny but so true! Like Americans who go to Italy and complain about the pizza. The nerve!

Heather

says:

When we were in Tokyo we stayed completely away from western food except for once: to try Japanese pizza. It had corn on it. Tasting another culture’s interpretation of a familiar food is always entertaining. :)

I like Gordon Blue when the ham and swiss is stuffed into a chicken pocket as well as roulade style. Yummmmeh.

Proud Italian Cook

says:

I haven’t had this in ages it seems like! That, and chicken kiev. Two real classic’s that I need to revisit!

Pixie

says:

I do love chicken cordon bleu and it’s something I should make some day very soon. Thanks for the reminder!

Errata Culinaria

says:

Yasou patrioti!

Well, the Gordon-Cordon dichotomy is everywhere in Greece.

You can also have a look here for a related article (in Greek, though).

All the best!
Errata Culinaria

cheese puff

says:

Lost in translation… Well said. I always have the same feeling too! That’s a very nice post and your pictures are so gorgeous too!