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Dante and Dante

In a recent segment of La Ladra, Eva and Dante are in the kitchen of the restaurant. Dante is trying to win Eva's affections by cooking irresistible dishes. He makes a reference to the famous star-crossed lovers, Paolo and Francesca, mentioned in the fifth Canto of Dante's Inferno. In it, Francesca recounts that she and Paolo had been reading in the Arthurian legends about Lancelot and Guinevere and how they had fallen in love as if under a spell, helped along by Galehaut, or Gallehaud, and called Galeotto in Italian. The spell seemed to affect Paolo and Francesca, too, and they fell in love immediately, as if struck by the book itself.
 

Learn more about these stories here (in English). Following are the original lines from Dante

Galeotto fu 'l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante».

The book and whoever wrote it was the matchmaker [what did it]:
That day, we read no further in it.

 

So, Galeotto is considered to be a sort of matchmaker, an intermediary in love matters, a cupid-type figure, we might say, but not necessarily a person or god. 

 

To add to the mix, galeottowith a lower case "g" is often used as an adjective, whose ending changes according to the gender of the noun it's modifying.

 

Here's a definition of galeotto from an Italian dictionary (De Mauro):

1 (aggettivo), che favorisceincoraggia l’amore fra due persone: motivo galeotto, canzonegaleotta 
(adjective), favoring, encouraging love between two people). 
2 (aggettivo, sostantivo maschile), intermediario d’amore (adjective, masculine noun), matchmaker, intermediary in love matters)

 

So when something is described with the adjective galeotto, it has the quality of being an amorous catalyst or agent, causing two people to fall in love.

 

Galeotto can describe a song, a kiss, a dance, some poetry, an action, and in the case of our chef, Dante, food, or at least, that's the way he sees it.

Hai presente il quinto canto dell'Inferno dove Paolo e Francesca vengono fatalmente attratti dalla galeotta lettura di un libro?
You know the fifth canto in the “Inferno,” where Paolo and Francesca are fatally attracted through the romance-inducing reading of a book?
Ecco, qui non c'è un libro galeotto, ma... un'alchimia di sapori, un amore e una passione per la cucina.
Well, in this case, there is no love-potion of a book, but...  an alchemy of tastes, a love and a passion for cooking.
Captions 20-24, La Ladra: Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 8 of 14

 

There have been plenty of discussions about the adjective galeotto on language forums and it's almost impossible to find an English adjective that fits the bill. So we thought it was worth discussing what this word is all about.

 

Have you ever fallen in love and blamed it on the le stelle (the stars), la luna (the moon), unacanzone (a song), una situazione (a situation), una parola (a word), un film (a movie)? That's what galeotto is about.

È stata la luna galeotta.
It was the romantic moon [that made us fall in love].

 

Attenzione, the noun galeotto also means "galley slave" and has come to mean "jailbird" or "inmate."

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