MilchReise/MilkTrip: Translations of Food

chinese translation
One translation into mandarin that I couldn’t transcribe.

At the ‘Translation as Firework‘ event curated by Jen Calleja at the Austrian Cultural Forum, I gave an audience of people two dishes to eat and to translate into their own words. I did not tell them what they were eating and I presented the food in metal takeaway containers with a lid. They ate with plastic implements and wrote down their translations of the food on thin pieces of lined paper that I had bought from pound stretcher in Peckham using black biros.

The food I made was my ‘translation’ of Austrian author Anna Weidenholzer’s fantastic short story ‘Sessel und Sätze’ (Chairs and Sentences). The two dishes were:
‘Milchreis/Sütlaç’; – rice pudding made in a Turkish method, flavoured with the tree resin gum mastic and served in a Germanic style with cherries.
‘Frankfurterkopita’, a filo pastry pie made in the style of the Greek ‘Spanakopita’ but filled with Frankfurter sausages, mustard cheese sauce, and dill.

I have transcribed their translations here:


‘By the beach
but I’m not hot.
It’s the winter in Greece
and I’m at the
beach café wondering
what I’m doing here
Smelling the pine
Hearing the waves, barely.

Pine trees
Cliff’s edge.’


‘ A field of flowers at
the start of spring.
Haze created by pollen
floating above the

The girl in red
Blonde hair
Roots – family roots
Awakened to moments
Long gone.
Shy excitement. That
moment when you feel
something good may happen.
An emotional arousal trapped
between the past and the anticipation
of the future.’


‘Free, always tasty.
A bit like old church
hall @ Christmas 1980.
Hearty heartland fair
under delicate plaster flowers.
the cool Kraut mixes nicely
w/ the crystal glow
if I knew what it was called
I’d probably mispronounce it.
Doesn’t matter, the taste
is easy.’


‘Crunchy salty
savoury sour
eggy sausage
sauerkraut flour’


‘My Kreuzberg  Hoff (garden)
in summer’


‘Enwrapped carnal protuberances
Salty, vinegary, greasy’


‘One cherry’


‘Pikanter Strudel mit Frankfurter
und Käse.
translates as:
We wrap up things in fine
dough, a bit like filo pastry
but home made. These
be sweet or savoury, you
can put any thing in, doesn’t
matter. Then bake it.
And serve with sauce or
salad. Warm ice cream.
And Sauerkraut is Sauerkraut;
no need to translate unless
you want to make
anti-German jokes.’


‘Comforting, soft
school dinners.’


warm sunshine
overipening fruits
full of the sun’s
energy. A late
summer’s day
we are reminded of
Fleshy cherries


‘A gift
An offering of not  overwhelmingly sweet or
savory. Both cold and warm. A
mediation. Sticky milky pudding, pillowy,
lightly spiced, and a pop of red
juice. Do I like it? I don’t know.
A familiar rice pudding form. But thrown
into question it becomes something to ponder.’


‘Skin w/ salt on it
the sea w/ salt in it
seaweed w/ slipping feet on it
sandy blankets w/ sweaty picnic on it
dirty clothes walking on shingles’


‘Feeding my small children,
Lovely creamy, tasty
introducing different
Soft textures.’


‘Let me out
all squeezed up
building up trust with
three eggs’




‘Reminds me of
Munich where
my daughter
went for surgery
from LA/USA
several years ago
and ________?
while I stayed
in a hotel while my
daughter recuperated in
a local clinic.
Specially the
breakfasts in
the hotel +
the black
bombed several
days before
the end of the
war + rebuilt
afterwards as
it was  +
my daughter too,
but much later.


Running into the
house with my sister.
onto the clean carpet
with dirty shoes.’


‘Freshly washed
white soft blanket that
still smells of fragrant
washing powder.’


‘Gummybears in the


‘Muskatnuss, Muskatnuss, Muskatnuss
Kirschen, Kirschen, Kirschen
Reis, Reis, Reis
When I was 19, I knew a guy
whose main ambition in life was
to win the dubious accolade of
having listened to Helge Schneider’s
‘Es gibt Reis’ more than anyone
else. He left his laptop on all
day and night and had the song
on loop (and his sound turned off).
Every day he checked his
stats. I don’t know if he succeeded,
but he managed to do one thing:
I can’t eat rice without thinking
about Helge Schneider, a dingy
student flatshare, and also that
you shouldn’t heat up rice, which is
what my friend Meriel told  me.
She did an A level in Food Technology,
so I’m inclined to trust her.’


‘As if my anticipation
was become reality
inside a silver casket
lay a little pig beside an
egg under a blanket of
cabbage, they were
eaten while they slept.’


My granny boiling the milk with
lots of cinnamon, lemon peel and cloves…
Gathering the cherries in June
And preserving them in “ouzo”
for the winter’


‘Smoke hiding in blankets
but safe and not dangerous,
made soft by cream.
Old smoke, not hot smoke.’

‘The rice pudding takes me to India where I tasted something similar, ages ago, one evening in a muslim district of New Delhi prepared in big steaming vats. Not too sweet, something in between, with an unknown and intriguing ingredient.’

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