My mom was a culinary master. Yes, she made a lot of stuff that was off the traditional Italian charts, but her roots were her roots, and she always went back to homeland basics.
As I teach my girls to cook, and every girl should cook…as they get older, wiser and more interested, I get a lot of questions. Some are about traditional eats which aid in the basics. Valentina asked me about my mother’s garlic bread, or traditional grilled bruschetta.
This prompted me to have a pronunciation fit in my brain about how BADLY basic Italian cuisine is pronounced. Italian is extremely phonetic, so really, what is the f()&^NG problem? If you don’t live in Naples, stop pronouncing these culinary delicacies like a Neopolitan longshoreman who works the docks, and is entitled to his dialect…they know how to communicate with each other with melodic profanity. And, in San Giuseppe Vesuviano where my father is from, it’s gorgeous and acceptable. But, traditional Italian is the most melodic.
Here’s the list that hurts my ears:
BRU-SHET -UH…..NO NO NO.
It’s pronounced BRU- SKET- AH:
The Italian “ch” is a “K” sound for us. Take that knowledge with you when you go…anywhere.
GA-NOOL…God help us!
It’s pronounced CA-NO-LEE
What the hell is so hard about that? There is absolutely no pronunciation relationship between GANOOL and CANNOLI.
GAH-VA-DEAL…Holy shit! Not every Italian CA turns into a GA. This is murder of this of this mouth watering, doughy little roll of pasta.
It’s pronounced: KA-VAH-TELL-EE
Another phonetic wonder.
REE-GAWT…I am going to vomit. The most amazing creation from cow’s milk ever, and this is what you do??
It’s pronounced: REE-COAT-AH
Where does one get REGAWT from RICOTTA? No G…no W…not a lot of things.
MON-EE-GAWT…another abomination using the famous Italian “GAWT” suffix. I bet you would never guess…
It’s prounonced: MAH-NEE-COAT-TEE
If it helps with a visual, una manica (mah-nee-kah) in Italian is a sleeve.
Sleeve pasta…there you go
BROCCOLI ROB…This is not the vegetable guy with a stand at the market on Arthur Ave.
It’s pronounced: BROC-OH-LEE DEE- ROP-AY
SPELLED: BROCCOLI DI RAPE
I might give you this one…a little, because broccoli is not hard to pronounce. But, the ROB part? Just not getting it.
MUZZ-AH-RELL…Italians live on vowels…wtf is this? My cheese, my cheese, my beautiful cheese. You can say burrata, but what the hell is this???
It’s pronounced: MOH-TSA-RELL-AH
I am crying as I think of the horrors of this disgrace, and I cannot even find a way out of it or an ounce of forgiveness.
PASTA-AY-FAZOO-L….I’ll give this to you if you spend your summers at the shore…the Italian shore…like Gaiola beach or the Sorrento peninsula. But, that’s doubtful.
It’s pronounced: PASTA EH FAJ-OH-LEE
SPELLED: PASTA E FAGIOLI
Such a simple, traditional Italian peasant dish thrust upon the Italo-American menus and pizza joints of today. I can’t even order it because when my order is confirmed by the waiter or alternate order taker, I just cry.
AH-LEEJ…Are you wondering about this one?? It’s a freaking anchovy!!!
It’s pronounced : AH-LEE-CHAY or AH-CHEW-GAH
SPELLED: ALICE OR ACCIUGA
In Italian, the letter “C” can play a few different roles…kind of like Roberto Benigni. But, in both instances the “C” makes an English “CH” sound as in “chew your alice…”
If you can speak and spell the English language, though for some that is quite a leap, the harmonious beats of the Italian language and their phonetic shouldn’t be a challenge. Well, again, don’t make me go there.