Wednesday word: lo stoccafisso

From Genova to Napoli, many regional Italian cuisines are full of recipes for lo stoccafisso [stockfish, air-dried whitefish, usually cod, haddock, or hake]. But that doesn’t mean lo stoccafisso is native to the Italian peninsula. The male singular noun stoccafisso has its roots in the Dutch word stokvisch, which means fish on a stick, or fish dried on a stick. Not surprisingly, this is the … Continue reading Wednesday word: lo stoccafisso

Wednesday word: il topinambur

Il topinambur [sunchoke, Helianthus tuberosus] is unique in la cucina italiana: an import from the Americas, this ingredient has taken on over a dozen common names. By means of comparison, a pomodoro [tomato] is usually just called one name: pomodoro. In addition to topinambur, you may hear this tuber called: la rapa tedesca [German turnip], il carciofo di Gerusalemme [Jerusalem artichoke], il carciofo / il tartufo di canna … Continue reading Wednesday word: il topinambur

Wednesday word: bottarga

The singular feminine noun bottarga (pronounced bot-TAR-ga) sounds a lot like bottega, but refers to something completely different. Nicknamed il caviale del Mediterraneo [the caviar of the Mediterranean], la bottarga is salted and dried roe (fish eggs). Especially in Sardegna [Sardinia], where about 150 tons are consumed every year, Italian bottarga is a delicacy that can get quite pricey, at an average cost of 12 Euro per … Continue reading Wednesday word: bottarga

Wednesday word: le tagliatelle

Tagliatelle is a plural feminine noun, pronounced tah-yleeah-TAYL-lay. It refers to one of the most popular noodles in Italy. You’ll rarely hear anyone use the singular form of the word (tagliatella) since noodles are a herd animal. Le tagliatelle can measure from 5mm to 10mm wide, and are usually made with l’uovo [egg] and sold fresh. You may have been first introduced to tagliatelle under the name of fettuccine: the two … Continue reading Wednesday word: le tagliatelle

Wednesday word: i lupini

If lupo means wolf in Italian, wouldn’t lupini mean little wolves? That’s a good guess, but the word for little wolf is actually lupetto (which also means cub scout). I lupini, pronounced loo-PEE-nee, are edible beans from the genus Lupinus (Fabaceae family). You’ll probably only hear Italians use the plural masculine noun lupini, but just FYI, the singular form is il lupino. One last wolf reference: as an adjective, lupino does … Continue reading Wednesday word: i lupini

Wednesday word: le alici

Alice is a beautiful name in English, and can also be a beautiful name in Italian…a beautiful name for a fish, that is. The singular feminine noun l’alice, pronounced ah-LEE-chay, means anchovy. Its plural form is le alici. L’acciuga (pronounced ahch-CHEW-gah) is another word for anchovy. In terms of the species of fish that the word refers to, there’s no difference between alice and acciuga. In the past, alice … Continue reading Wednesday word: le alici

Wednesday word: la leccornia

The word leccornia, pronounced layk-kohrn-EE-ah, can be translated into English as tidbit, delicacy, exquisite food, or appealing something-or-other. The word leccornia is often used to describe pastries, but can also be applied to tasty dishes of any kind, whether sweet or savory. Several sources state that the singular feminine noun leccornia is rooted in lecconeria, which describes the food eaten by a food-lover, called a leccone in older forms of Tuscan dialects. Nowadays people use … Continue reading Wednesday word: la leccornia

Wednesday Word: lo speck

Unlike most words in the Italian language, speck does not end with a vowel, and is spelled with the unusual (for Italians) combination of ck. This masculine singular noun is pronounced SPAYK and comes from the root speck / spec / spek, all words in older Germanic dialects that mean fat or lard. Lo speck is made from the hind leg of pigs and is therefore closer to prosciutto than it is … Continue reading Wednesday Word: lo speck

Wednesday Word: la pasta / il pasto

The words pasta and pasto are very close in terms of sound and spelling, but that’s where the similarities end. The feminine singular noun pasta is pronounced PAH-stah. La pasta has five (count ’em five) main definitions: 1 dry or fresh noodles, made from grain flour and water, sometimes with egg or other additions, of any shape and size 2 dough, of any kind, for … Continue reading Wednesday Word: la pasta / il pasto

Wednesday word: il broccolo

Il broccolo is pronounced BROHK-koh-loh, and refers to the green tree-like vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family, along with cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Il broccolo is a male countable noun. English speakers are more familiar with its plural form, i broccoli. When you’re in Italy, you’ll find that the plural form – i broccoli – is used most often, since rarely would just one little “tree” be eaten … Continue reading Wednesday word: il broccolo