TED Translators culture series: local food with Nika Kotnik

Photo courtesy of Nika Kotnik.

For this week’s TED Translators culture feature, we’ve got another tasty local dish to share with you. Slovenian TED Translator Nika Kotnik was kind enough to detail for us how to cook a simple and nutritious meal that consists of two of her country’s staple foods: buckwheat and porcini mushrooms. As Nika told us, “In Slovenia, buckwheat is a traditional food, and porcini mushrooms—especially those picked in the wild and dried for the winter—are very popular.” This dish, called ajdova kaša z jurčki in Slovenian, is a great way to warm up on cold winter days, so her recipe couldn’t have come at a better time for those of us currently in the Northern Hemisphere. What’s more, ajdova kaša z jurčki lends itself well to countless variations; try Nika’s version below, or add your own twist.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup of buckwheat.
  • Butter.
  • 1 to 2 leeks.
  • Porcini mushrooms (as many as you like; fresh, or soaked in water for 2 hours and then dried).
  • 2 cups of water.
  • 1 bouillon cube.
  • 100 milliliters of white wine.

And here’s Nika’s recipe:

  • Soak the buckwheat in water overnight; rinse and drain in the morning.
  • Heat a bit of butter in a pan and add diced leek(s).
  • Add a pinch of salt and sauté the leek(s) for 5 minutes.
  • Add the drained buckwheat and porcini mushrooms.
  • Add 2 cups of water and 1 bouillon cube.
  • Let simmer for 15 minutes, and stir occasionally.
  • Add 100 milliliters of white wine.
  • Let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with baked tofu or a veggie patty, if desired.
  • Add more wine, if desired.


Japanese TED Translators online gathering


At the end of last November, Japanese TED Translators Emi Kamiya, Moe Shoji and Riaki Poništ organized and hosted an online meeting of several Japanese TED Translators based around the world—in the UK, US, Italy and the Caribbean. The goal of the gathering was to explore online venues as a means for Japanese translators both in and outside of Japan to regularly meet, interact and work together. A number of participants gave presentations and held discussions on the cohesion and productivity online meetings can bring to international translation communities; to see the full report on these and more, head here.

TED Translators culture series: local food with Oana Ramona Fagaras

Stuffed cabbage with meat and rice.

We’re switching gears in this third installment of our culture series to share one of our translator’s favorite local dishes with you. We recently chatted with TED Translator Oana Ramona Fagaras about sarmale, traditional Romanian cabbage rolls that are a Christmastime staple but delicious any time of year.

In addition to sour cabbage, sarmale are typically filled with rice and either pork or beef, and then topped with sour cream. There are several variations of the dish throughout Romania—sans rice or with bacon, for example—but whatever the combination of ingredients, sarmale are, as Oana told us, “a must-have every Christmas.”

“This dish is an important part of Romanian culinary culture,” Oana explained, “because it’s one of the few in the country that continue to be passed down from generation to generation in many families, often without any change to the families’ respective recipes. Making sarmale every Christmas, then, is a mother-daughter bonding ritual of sorts; when I was younger, just before the holiday each year, I’d spend hours in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother as they taught me how to make their version of the perfect rolls. We’d always turn out 80 to a hundred pieces, because when it comes to sarmale a little bit is never enough.”

Got a jones for sarmale now? Check out this recipe and try your own hand at cooking a batch. Poftă bună!

Highlights from TSCOW 2016

Photo credit: Gonzalo Esteguy.

Happy New Year, everyone! As we head into 2017, we’d like to take a quick look back at the TEDx Southern Cone Organizers Workshop (TSCOW 2016), which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late last year. On October 23, the day after TEDxRíodelaPlata 2016, the workshop brought together TED Translators and organizers from 38 TEDx teams and 10 countries, including Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

One of TSCOW 2016’s main goals—to educate attendees on building and managing translation teams within their respective TEDx event teams—was tackled in a presentation by Gisela Giardino, a Spanish-language translator and TEDxRíodelaPlata team member. In addition, TED Translator and TEDxPESA curator Sebastian Betti reported on updates from TEDSummit, and recruited volunteers to transcribe, translate and coordinate TEDx translation teams. All in all, TSCOW 2016 proved to be a productive gathering for TED Translators and TEDx Organizers in the Southern Cone.

TED Translators culture series: local music with Mahmoud Aghiorly

For this week’s edition of the TED Translators culture series, we asked Arabic translator Mahmoud Aghiorly to tell us about one of his favorite songs by a local musician.

Mahmoud originally hails from Aleppo, a city in northwestern Syria that’s been (and continues to be) ravaged by the country’s five-year-old civil war. Though he now resides in Melbourne, Australia, both Syria and his hometown have been constantly, indelibly in Mahmoud’s heart and mind since leaving.

It makes sense, then, that he chose to share with us Sabah Fakhri’s rendition of the Arabic folk song “Ah Ya Helo” (English translation: “Oh Sweet”): it’s a bittersweet rumination on lost love—be that a person or one’s home—but also a song whose music radiates hopeful energy, a sense that loss can be transformed into something redemptive. You can find an English translation of “Ah Ya Helo” here, and you can learn more about the iconic Sabah Fakhri here.

TED Translators at TEDxKyoto and TEDxTokyo

Natsuhiko Mizutani and Ai Tokimatsu at the TED Translators booth at TEDxKyoto.

Japanese TED Translators and TEDx-ers have a long history of collaborating to increase accessibility to TEDx talks. This year, as well as focusing on accessibility,  Japanese TED Translators aimed to grow their physical footprint at TEDx events throughout Japan.

In late October, at TEDxKyoto, Japan’s largest TEDx gathering, Natsuhiko Mizutani led a group of translators, including Yuko Yoshida and Ai Tokimatsu, in setting up a TED Translators booth to engage with attendees. They passed out TED Translators stickers and flyers with information about the program, and collected emails from potential volunteers. In addition, plans were finalized with TEDxKyoto and TEDxKobe organizers for a Japanese TED Translators workshop, which took place in early November.

Shortly after Kyoto, Natsuhiko and Ai were among 12 Japanese TED Translators invited to participate in TEDxTokyo by the event’s organizer. There, the translators networked with TEDx organizers and attendees, cultivating new relationships within the community and building on old ones.

“All in all,” Natsuhiko said, “both TEDxKyoto and TEDxTokyo were extremely productive gatherings; our presence as TED Translators ambassadors at each did quite a lot to raise awareness of our ongoing translation efforts and the greater Japanese translation community.”

Amara development news — November 2016

Part of the new Videos page in development on Amara.

This month, Amara released several improvements to the editor. You may have already noticed these changes:

  • Subtitle help tray remains visible, regardless of scroll position
  • Larger, more functional timeline dragging handles
  • “Magic mode” auto-pausing updated and re-introduced to video playback options

TED and Amara have also been making steady progress on the second of three development phases, which will fully overhaul the Amara platform. Here are the latest updates from the Amara development team:

  • Phase 2 pages built, integrated and undergoing testing
  • TED and Amara teams planning to begin phase 3 development work, which includes:
    • New messaging center
    • Mentorship dashboard
    • UX for mentors and mentees
    • Subtitle diff page
    • UI refinements to integrated pages