My last Italian “say it isn’t so” menu seemed to strike such an irritating cord in those who know how to say, cavatelli and not GAH VA DEAL…several more of these Mediterranean culinary slanders came up..
Is this Italian Halloween?
It’s Pronounced: CAPY-KO-LAH
It’s Spelled: Capicolla or Capicola
It’s a fatty, Italian cold cut, similar to fatty, Italian salami.
What kills me is these Italian deli owners can’t pronounce it themselves, and have taught their customers and deli sandwich makers to order the same, ghostly delight: (It always starts with yeah, um…must be required to order):
“I’ll uh take a, GABOO-GOOL special with oil and vinegar.”
I’m sorry…but WTF is this? Is this a chant to ward off the evil GABBO-GOOL?
My good Jesus, I beg you to help me with this ugly, distorted version of your beautiful, aglio e olio.
It’s Pronounced: AH-LI-OH AY OH-LEE-OH
It’s Spelled: AGLIO E OLIO
It’s so simple, just means garlic (aglio) and oil (olio).
I will kind of give you the difficulty with the Italian dipthong, “gl”. Unless you are native or taught young, it does not just roll off your tongue. But, frieking OLIO? Just lazy.
Yes, somebody please shoot me with my bra, because this is painful.
It’s Pronounced: PRO-SHOOT-OH
It’s Spelled: PROSCIUTTO
Italian cured ham. So, prosciutto on its own is a general term for “ham.” However, “prosciutto cotto,” is like American deli ham, so there is a difference. You probably won’t find that here…but you might in the boot. Armed with that porky knowledge, if you ask for Bra-shoot in Italy, they probably won’t give you anything but a weird stare, and a dialect chat with one of their friends and empty bread.
This is not a cute little cookie for your kitty.
It’s Pronounced: BEE-SCOH-TEA
It’s Spelled: BISCOTTI
It’s a G-damn cookie. (Sorry, God). Nothing crazy over the top….Italians are actually very, very simple bakers. My nonna used to make them with real anise and that’s all I knew as biscotti. Americans call anything baked with some resemblance of a cookie, biscotti.
Biscotti is also plural. Un biscotto is singular. Stop asking for ten cookies when you only want one.
Excuse me? What is this? It sounds like Mandarin Chinese. Are you ordering Moo-Shoo or cheese?
Oh, you mean Parmigiano? Ahh…yes.
Beautiful, unmistakable Parma, Italy. The capital of all things cheese and prosciutto. Please, please do not desecrate the sanctity and esculent grail of gastronomic delight.
It’s Pronounced: PAHR-MEE-JAN-OH or, for those who might have a prosciutto leg up on pronunciation, try this:
It’s Spelled: Parmigiano
Just so you know, a native of Parma can be referred to as Parmigiano, or Parmense. (PAR-MEN-SAY). And, anything with parmigiano cheese or cooked in the way of Parma, is alla parmigian(a). This is an ending agreement issue which sometimes gets distorted, so do not get me started.
Another fly in my sauce annoyance is, do you know really and truly now how many authentic Italian dishes are parmigiano???
Not many. I have heard waiters snicker at Americans who order : “Shrimp Par mee zan.” Italians will most likely never put cheese on fish unless forced to do so by an unrelenting tourist. I saw a waiter hand a cheese dish to another waiter and say in Itailian about a woman and her pasta. “She wants cheese on her clams. I can’t do this. You do it.”
Americans will par-me-zan everything from meat, to fish, to vegetables to tablecloths and other non edibles. Please, do not embarrass yourself if it’s not on the menu.
Ok, another Italian import that made the menu. But how many are you ordering??
It’s Pronounced: PAH-NE-NE (phonetic)
It’s Spelled: PANINI
Un panino, (pah-nee-no) is one. One baby sandwich. So, unless you are ordering more than one, you are ordering:
Un panino or one panino.
I get it…a menu may say PANINI, which if they are offering more than one type of PANINO is correct. However, you are only ordering one, it’s just one PANINO.
Oh and what a delicacy this has become…it’s really peasant train food sold at the train station or a “bar” as a snack for transportation. They are not overstuffed with slabs of cheese and mushrooms and nitrate meats. They are made to aid in sustaining life until you can get to the next meal.
Oh Lord, please help me educate the know it all American public on Italian coffee. It pains me when I see menu items that mean well in their description but have nothing to do with their true Italian counterparts.
A LATTE: If you walked into an Italian bar, or sat down for breakfast in your hotel, and asked for a very cosmopolitan “Latte,” the waiter would show up with a glass of milk. And, rightfully so. In Italian, latte LAH-TAY. Comes from a cow. Plain and simple. (I was with someone who asked for a latte, and the waiter, knowing I spoke Italian snickered at me, “Ma dove’ il bambino?). Translation: Where’s the baby?
Now, if you asked for un “caffe latte,” you would more than likely get a cup of “Café Americano” with warm milk on the side. PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR ICE OR A STRAW. Italians do not use ice on the hottest day of the year. They will not put it in their coffee.
PRONOUNCED : OON KA-POO-CHEENO
Americans will probably have some basic luck here, as a cappuccino is just espresso with hot, frothed milk on top. You won’t embarrass yourself or get laughed at if you keep it simple.
Pretty basic at Starbucks, but it’s wrong. So very, very wrong.
In basic Italian, “macchiato” means stained, or “marked.”
Un café macchiato is an espresso with a “spot” or dot of milk.
It is not a triple grande iced, cinnamon, almond milk, caramel monstrosity with milk. What we have done to this very, simple, simple concept. It wasn’t made in a lab. It was formulated by some Italian barber in like 1846 who wanted to cool down his espresso.
The basic of all Italian coffees, and we can’t get that right, either. It’s not express anything. As a matter of fact, before we ever had an “espresso” machine, I remember my mother making my father coffee with grinds and water in that tiny silver cast iron pot that became a weapon in every Italian household. It took forever to boil…and on Christmas Eve you prayed only four people wanted a cup.
I’ll give you the pronunciation somewhat, but the origin is wrong. It does not mean express or quick coffee. The genesis of “espresso” actually comes from “esprimere” (es-preem-err-ay) which means to press or press out. The old Neopolitan silver coffee pots explain it the best. (Or a…gulp..French press.)
Around 1900, Luigi Bezzera created a machine which did combine steam and coffee, making it “faster.”
But, the java roots came from a very basic Italian barista who decided to press coffee and water, and called it “espresso” or pressed coffee. GENIUS.
When I sleep at night, or try to after I take my night time pack of personalized vitamins, I think of what to write next. Lately, the English desecration of Italian cuisine just seems to be free flowing. This is part two, will there be a part three? Only my melatonin knows…buona notte.