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Lessons for topic Food

Solido and Sodo

This week, Marika talks about adverbs. But she also talks about adjectives used as adverbs in idiomatic expressions. If we think about it, this happens in English, too, as we shall see.

 

One adjective she uses is sodo. It is very similar to solido, and indeed, they are pretty equivalent and have the same Latin origin: “solidus.”

Solido is a true cognate, and means “solid.”

Il composto è stato a riposare in frigo. Adesso è più solido e così possiamo preparare le palline.
The dough has been resting in the fridge. Now it's stiffer and that way we can prepare the little balls.
Caption 29, Dolcetti vegan: al cocco e cioccolato 

 

Sodo is just a bit different, and used primarily in different contexts. One of the most common uses for sodo is when talking about how long an egg is cooked. If it’s hard-boiled, it’s sodo. We can well visualize the shell coming off the egg, and its being solid enough to hold in your hand: sodo.

 

While we’re on the subject of eggs, here are some different ways of cooking eggs in Italian: Let’s remember that the noun uovo has an irregular plural. Un uovo (an egg), due uova (two eggs), delle uova (some eggs).

uova strapazzate (literally, “over-worked eggs,” scrambled eggs)  
uovo affogato (literally, “drowned egg”) or in camicia (literally, “in its jacket,”  poached egg)  
uovo alla coque  (literally, “egg in its shell," soft-boiled egg, often eaten in its shell in an egg cup)
uovo sodo (hard-boiled egg)  
uovo al tegameuovo al tegamino (fried egg)
all'occhio di bue (literally, “like an ox’s eye,” sunny-side up)

There is an Italian film by Paolo Virzì called OvosodoOvo is Tuscan for uovoHere is an English language description of the movie.

 

We also use sodo when referring to working hard. This is similar to English, where we have the adjective “hard” functioning like an adverb, modifying, or describing the verb lavorare(to work).

Bisogna lavorare sodo per ottenere dei buoni risultati.
You have to work hard to obtain good results.
Caption 31, Marika spiega: Gli avverbi di modo 

 

Sodo can also be used a bit like nocciolo (the kernel, the point, the heart of the matter). In this case, the adjective sodo is used as a noun, to mean something like  “the serious stuff.” Seethis lesson about nocciolo.

Arriviamo al sodo (let’s get down to brass tacks, let’s get to the point).
Va subito al sodo. Non gira intorno (he gets right to the point. He doesn’t beat around the bush).

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Pasta and More Pasta

 
 

The most immediate image that comes to mind when hearing the noun pasta is a nice plate of it, at the table. When we say la pasta, we're referring, more often than not, to the dish we know and love.

 

 

But in Italian, pasta means other things as well. In fact, pasta refers to something that has been impastato (kneaded, mixed into a dough or paste at some point). Think of the similarity of pasta and “paste.” Think of the simple paste you can make with flour and water. That’s a kind of pasta, or dough.

 

A recent video at Yabla is a further episode about a shop in Rome that specializes in gift packaging, and personalized gifts made of carta (paper), cartone (cardboard), but also tessuto (cloth/fabric) and pasta modellabile (modeling clay). Think “playdough” to get the connection.

Abbiamo una pasta sintetica, vendiamo una pasta sintetica nel negozio, infrangibile.
We have synthetic modeling clay. We sell synthetic modeling clay in the shop, shatterproof.
Caption 1, Polvere di Fata: Negozio di Belle Arti - La pasta modellabile

Pasta sometimes means “dough.”

Quindi, si stende la pasta della pizza,
So, you spread out the pizza dough,
Caption 10, Antonio: presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

Dough is also called l’impasto (the dough). L’impasto can mean any mixture, usually a bit thick. 

L'impasto della pizza è composto da: acqua, farina, lievito e sale.
The pizza dough is made of: water, flour, yeast, and salt.
Caption 6, Antonio: presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

When people talk about pasta asciutta, what do they mean? It literally means “dry pasta.” You might think it’s the opposite of fresh pasta (usually, but not always, made with eggs and flour). But no, it means “not in broth.” There may be a sauce, but the pasta dish can be eaten with a fork, not a spoon.

Eh, quindi per esempio, la pasta asciutta, così apprezzata da, da tutta l'Italia...
Uh, so for example, pasta, so appreciated by, by all of Italy...
Caption 17, L'arte della cucina: I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 16 

Even in olive oil production, we can refer to una pasta. It’s the resulting paste from crushing the olives.

Le olive vengono frantumate, cioè spappolate, nocciolo e polpa insieme e ne risulta una pasta chiara.
The olives are crushed, that is, they are mashed, pit and pulp together, and the result is a light-colored paste.
Captions 36 - 37, L'olio extravergine di oliva: Il frantoio 

Una pasta can also mean any kind of sweet roll that you have for colazione (breakfast) or spuntino (snack) when you’re in an Italian bar. Other names for this item are pezzo dolce (sweet piece) in Tuscany, or brioche (with various spellings, as it comes from the French), and cornetto (croissant) in various areas of Italy.

Pago un caffè e due paste.
I’ll pay for a coffee and two sweet rolls.

Now you know there’s more to pasta than just spaghetti!

 

For pasta recipes on Yabla, here are a few:

 

Adriano shows us how to make pasta alla carbonara.

 

Three little cooks prepare a delicious pasta dish dedicated to the tricolore (the Italian flag).

 

Here’s a personal pasta recipe presented by Arianna.

 

Buon appetito and have fun making things out of pasta modellabile!

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Food in Italy at Christmastime

If it's Natale — Christmas Day, lots of folks in Italy are at home getting ready for a big meal. Food is a priority, and taken very seriously.

 

Of course, Italy is famous for pasta, and so on Christmas, the dinner table for traditional Italians will often include lasagne al forno (baked lasagna). Here are some recipes in Italian:

Lasagne al forno lasagne verdi

 

You wouldn't want to eat lasagna every day, but it's hard to say no to. Even Luca Manara can't say no. Note that, as for other kinds of pasta, the plural is used: lasagne.

Ecco qua il miracolo di zia Caterina, le famose lasagne al forno per festeggiare l'ennesimo caso risolto brillantemente, ecco qua.
Here it is, Aunt Caterina's miracle, the famous baked lasagna to celebrate the umpteenth case solved brilliantly, here you are.
Caption 18 - 19, Il Commissario Manara 2: Ep. 1 - Matrimonio con delitto - Part 15

 

Tortellini in brodo (Tortellini in broth) is another favorite. See more about tortellini here.

Making homemade brodo (broth) is common in Italy, and is easy and worth it. If you’re not sure what to do with the rind from your parmigiano (parmesan cheese), well, just throw it in the pot with the other basic ingredients: various cuts of meat and bones, celery, parsley, carrots and onions. The parmigiano rinds add some great flavor.

Here’s a recipe for brodo, in Italian.

 

From the Yabla video series about the famous chef Gualtiero Marchesi, we can see how big a deal a simple broth can be. 

Nell'orazione funebre che Bocuse tenne per la morte di uno dei due fratelli Troisgros, ricordava ancora la preparazione del brodo. La preparazione del brodo è come la preparazione della pozione magica...
In the funeral oration that Bocuse gave for the death of one of the two  Troisgros brothers, he mentioned again the preparation of broth. The preparation of broth is like preparing a magic potion...
Captions 27 - 29, L'arte della cucina: I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 13 of 17

 

One thing that characterizes the winter season in Italy, is the overwhelming availability of agrumi (citrus fruit). People like to eat arance (oranges)mandarini (mandarin oranges),and clementini (clementines) or clementine (clementines). They are shipped to all other parts of Italy from Sicily and Calabria, and fill shops and homes with their fragrance.

 

In just about any bar, you can order una spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice). It's best when oranges are in season. 

Per me una spremuta d'aranciagrazie.
For me a freshly squeezed orange juice, thanks.
Caption 41, Provaci Ancora Prof Stagione 1 Ep1: fiction - Part 11 of 28

 

In Italy, fruit is generally served at the end of a meal, and at Christmastime, there is usually also frutta secca (nuts and other dried fruits) in addition to panettone and other wonderful but caloric desserts. 

Here’s a link to a Yabla blog about the winter holidays in various parts of the world.

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Fagioli e Legumi: Beans and Legumes

An important staple of the Italian diet is il fagiolo (the bean). There's a vast variety of beans in many shapes, colors, and sizes, with local names, but the principal ones areborlotti (pinto beans) and cannellini (small white beans). Other popular legumi(legumes) include ceci (garbanzo beans or chickpeas), lenticchie (lentils, of which there are many varieties), and fave (fava beans).

When in season (late spring), cannellini and borlotti are sold fresh in their pods, da sgranare (to shuck), but in addition to being canned, they're found on the shelves of supermarkets and alimentari (small grocery stores or delis) in dried form. They get soaked for many hours, and then cooked for a relatively long time, in terra cotta pots (traditionally). They contain a fair amount of protein, so they're a great source of protein for vegetarians, as well as for people who can't afford to buy much meat. 

Even the cooking water from the beans doesn't go to waste, but gets pureed with a portion of the beans themselves, making a great vegetarian brodo (broth) for the kind of soups that are particularly popular in Tuscany.

There's talk, in this week's video about famous Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, about the type of lunch that would be served in his parents' trattoria (small family run restaurant), which catered to workers, and consisted of humble ingredients and dishes.

...un ristorante frequentato, fondamentalmente, da operatori di questo tipo, quindi, un ristorante dove si facevano panini, dove si faceva la trippa, e dove si facevano, non so, i fagioli.
...a restaurant frequented, basically, by workers of this type, therefore, a restaurant where they made sandwiches, where they made tripe, and where they made, I don't know, beans.
Captions 3-4, L'arte della cucina: La Prima Identità - Part 6 of 17

Trippa (tripe), from the first stomach of the cow, is (or was) one of the more inexpensive animal proteins, which is why Gualtiero talks about it being a popular dish at his parents' trattoria. See this article about la trippa!

Fagioli may seem like an unassuming, inexpensive, simple contorno (side dish), but when conditi (seasoned) with high quality olio extravergine di oliva (virgin olive oil), they become a delicious classic dish appreciated by diners all over Italy.

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Alimenti, Ravioli, and Pinzimonio

Alimenti: Food and fuel

In the latest episode of Commissario Manara, someone is worried about having to pay alimenti (alimony).

Sto aspettando il divorzio dalla mia ex moglie e... conoscendola quella... veniva a saperlo, poi mi tartassava con gli alimenti.

I'm waiting for a divorce from my ex-wife and... knowing her, that one... if she found out, she would have hit me hard for alimony.

Captions 52-53, Il Commissario Manara: Il Raggio Verde - Ep5 - Part 6 of 14

But there’s much more to this word than supporting one’s ex. The various forms of the word have to do with fuel, energy, food, and nutrition. Here are a few related terms:

  • L’alimentari (small grocery or deli)
  • Il reparto alimentare (the food section of a department store)
  • Il cavo d’alimentazione (power cord)
  • Alimentare (to feed, to fuel)
  • Un alimento (a specific food): La carne è un alimento ricco di proteine. Meat is a food rich in protein.
  • L’alimentazione (food in general, eating): un’alimentazione sana (healthy eating).

And speaking of alimentazione sana...

Elegant finger food

In the latest episode of La Ladra, there’s a discussion about pinzimonio between Eva and her new cook, Dante. 

Pensavo che con il suo pinzimonio, una salsa in più ci stesse bene.

I just thought that with your dish of raw vegetables dipped in olive oil, one more sauce would fit in well.

Captions 20-21 La ladra: Le cose cambiano - Part 13 of 17

There’s no good one-word translation of pinzimonio, but it’s certainly worth explaining (and tasting).Basically, it’s an elegant method (called in pinzimonio) of eating plain raw vegetables by dipping them into a little dish filled with good olive oil and salt. Pepper, vinegar, and other ingredients may be added at the diner’s discretion. You can’t get simpler than pinzimonio, but if the olio extravergine d’oliva is of good quality, and the vegetables are fresh and appealing, then it’s a wonderful way to eat a light second course, or appetizer. Vegetables used for la verdura in pinzimonio are, to name a few: carote (carrots), cipolla fresca (fresh spring or green onions), finocchio (fennel bulbs), young tender carciofi (artichokes), cetrioli (cucumbers), il sedano bianco (white celery), la belga (Belgian endive), peperoni (bell peppers), and ravanelli (radishes).

The verb pinzare means “to clamp” or “to pinch closed,” so it’s easy to visualize holding a piece of carota or sedano between thumb and fingers in order to dip it in the olive oil.

And for those (like most Italians) who love their pasta...

Pasta ripiena

In the latest segment about chef Gualtiero Marchesi, he talks about il raviolo. Usually we see this word in the plural, i ravioli, because there’s usually more than one of them sul piatto (on the plate). In this particular case there was just one large beautiful raviolo on each plate.

Mi venne in mente così di fare il raviolo aperto, è stato un tutt'uno.

That’s how it came to mind to make an open "raviolo," it was all one thing.

Caption 27, L'arte della cucina: I Luoghi del Mondo - Part 17 of 17

We’re talking here about pasta ripiena (filled pasta). With the exception of Marchesi’s “open” raviolo, there are normally two layers of la sfoglia (fresh egg pasta dough) with a ripieno di carne (meat filling) or ripieno di spinaci e ricotta (spinach and ricotta filling), but there are many variations. Ravioli, tortelli, tortelloni, agnolotti, or pansotti each have their traditional forme (shapes), ripieni (fillings), and condimenti (sauces), which range from simple burro e salvia (butter and sage) to an elaborate ragù (meat sauce). Tortellini and cappelletti are filled pasta, but are bite-sized, and almost exclusively made with a ripieno di carne. One favorite way to eat them is in brodo (in broth). Don’t forget the parmigiano!

Ravioli and other types of filled pasta are best eaten in restaurants where they’re a specialty. There are plenty of calories in pasta, and especially in pasta ripiena, so why not follow it (or precede it) with a pinzimonio to maintain un’alimentazione sana!

Buon appetito!

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Pizza al taglio, aperitivi, and stuzzichini

Italy is known for its three-course lunches and dinners, but in most cities and towns, there’ll be a more casual type of place where you can get take out, eat at a little table, or mangiare in piedi (eat standing up). 

Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) is very popular all over Italy, especially in Rome. As Anna explains, prices vary according to size and what’s on the pizza.

Tu scegli il pezzo di pizza, viene pesato, a seconda del tipo di pizza. Ha un prezzo diverso al chilo, e paghi a seconda della grandezza e del peso di pizza che hai scelto.

You choose the piece of pizza, it's weighed, depending on the kind of pizza. It has a varying price per kilo, and you pay depending on the size and the weight of the pizza you've chosen.

Captions 69-72, Anna e Marika: Pizza al taglio romana - Part 1 of 2

You can certainly find pizza al taglio in Tuscany, but in addition, and baked in the same oven, you’ll often see la cecina, made from farina di ceci (chickpea flour). Learn more here. Liguria and Tuscany, as well as Puglia have focaccia, in some areas called schiacciata, which is made with flour, water, oil and yeast, like pizza, and often takes the place of bread. You’ll find it in bakeries, bars, and pizzerie. As a quick snack, Romagna has the piadina, a flat bread made with lard rather than olive oil, which gets filled with cured meats or cheese. Learn more here.

A way for people to get together socially, without having to spend lots of money on dinner, is to have drinks before they go home for dinner: fare or prendere l’aperitivo (to have an aperitif). As we’ll see, aperitivo has different sfumature (shades of meaning).

Prima di andare a cena, quindi verso le sei o le sette, gli italiani fanno un aperitivo.

Before going to have dinner, so, around six or seven o'clock, Italians have cocktails.

Captions 1-2, Corso di italiano con Daniela: L'aperitivo

Adriano, in describing his day, includes an aperitivo, at least on the weekend.

Mi rilasso e mi sfogo con gli amici dopo una lunga giornata di lavoro.

Mi concedo qualche aperitivo e poi anche qualche cocktail alcolico.

I relax and I let off steam with my friends after a long day of work.

I allow myself some aperitifs and then also a few cocktails.

Captions 44-46, Adriano: Giornata

It’s pretty clear that Adriano considers aperitivo in its broader sense, and he uses qualche aperitivo here to mean a few appetizers. For an explanation of how to use qualche, see this previous lesson. For the drink itself, Adriano uses "cocktail.” As with most English words integrated into the Italian language, "cocktail" will remain in the singular no matter how many he has.

 While the aperitivo, usually served with patatine (potato chips) or olive (olives), is an established ritual in most parts of Italy, one of the latest trends is the apericena. If you combine aperitivo (drinks) with cena (dinner), you get apericena. What is it? It’s drinks and appetizers, both savory and sweet, that are varied and abundant enough to replace dinner, served buffet style. The apericena exists both in bars about town, offering an alternative to a costly tab in a restaurant, and in homes, making for a relatively low-budget, flexible, and fashionable alternative to a sit-down dinner. It encourages mingling, conversation, and allows for guests to just stop by. These light buffet dinners are becoming more and more popular all over Italy.

All over the world there's a tendency to take foreign words and knowingly or unknowingly give them a meaning different from the original. So, be aware that in bars, the apericena or the aperitivo (depending on how much there is to eat) is sometimes called a “happy hour,” which in Italy is not about discounts on drinks as in the United States, but rather having drinks accompanied by a small buffet of stuzzichini (appetizers) for a fixed, though variable, price. More about the Italian happy hour here. The word for “toothpick” in Italian is stuzzicadenti. Little bite-size appetizers are often served with toothpicks, thus the term stuzzichini. If you travel to Venice, you'll want to check out the Venetian version of stuzzichini: cicchetti.

Learn more here. This is an important tip, given that it’s quite a challenge finding good food at reasonable prices in Venezia.

Buon appetito!

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Summer Offerings

During the summer, one nice thing to do on a hot afternoon is prendere un gelato (go for ice cream), especially if you’re with friends and you happen to pass una gelateria. You might want to be the one to treat everyone. If so, then the verb you need here is offrire (to offer). 

Allora, sai che facciamo? Per festeggiare, ti offro un gelato.

So, you know what we'll do? To celebrate, I'll treat you to an ice cream.

Caption 28, Francesca: alla guida - Part 3 of 4

When somebody looks ready to pull out his wallet, that’s the time to say, offro io! (I’m buying!)

In a gelateria, there are various prices relating to how many scoops, or palline (little balls), of gelato you get on your cono (cone) or in your coppetta (little cup), and the good news is that each scoop can be a different gusto (flavor). 

As far as gusti go, rarely will you find vaniglia (vanilla), but you will find fior di latte or fior di panna (or even panna fredda in the Bologna area). Why these names? Fiore (flower) can be used as an adjective, fior, to describe something as being special, of the best quality, in this case latte (milk) or panna (cream). Think of something flourishing or blossoming. In fact, fior fiore is an expression used outside the realm of gelato to mean “the cream of the crop” (la crème de la crème). So we’re talking about the best quality milk, the best quality cream. Theoretically, that’s what goes into this kind of gelato, which, whatever the gelataio chooses to call it, (fior di latte, fior di panna, or panna fredda), refers to gelato with no added flavoring, just the taste of the milk, cream, and sugar. It’s white in color, and naturally, this “neutral” flavor goes well with all the other gusti.

Gelato alla crema, on the other hand, is made with the above ingredients, plus eggs, and because of this, is rich, yellow, and more custardy. It’s probably the closest you’ll get to “vanilla.” It’s the kind of gelato that ends up on top of fragole (strawberries) or macedonia (fruit salad).

Una macedonia con il gelato alla crema. -Ok, alla crema, perfetto.

A fruit salad with vanilla ice cream. -OK, vanilla, perfect.

Caption 28, Una gita: al lago - Part 4 of 4

Apart from the ever popular cioccolato, other well-loved flavors are: 

  • nocciola (hazelnut)
  • stracciatella (shredded chocolate laced through fior di latte, from stracciare [to shred])
  • gianduia (chocolate and hazelnut)
  • amarena (fior di latte laced with amarene [sour cherries] in their syrup)


...and many more! Italians like to combine the flavors on the same cone or in the same little dish. They may even use a little spoon to eat the ice cream off the cone! 

If you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner in the summertime, it’s rarely a mistake to bring, as a gift, a vaschetta (little tub) of gelato. Pick a variety of gusti so there’s something for everyone. The gelataio will give you a polistirolo (styrofoam) container so it stays cold.

For more about gelato, see: Andromeda: in - Storia del gelato - Part 1 of 2 and Andromeda: in - Storia del gelato - Part 2 of 2.

Summer can be a great time to reinforce a foreign language experience. If you’ve already seen the Yabla offerings of Italian TV episodes like Medico in Famiglia or Commissario Manara, try watching an entire puntata (episode) from start to finish without the captions. You might be surprised at how much you understand! 

For a greater challenge, watch some classic Italian movies with (or without) subtitles, such as:

Fellini films like La Strada or La Dolce Vita, which are mentioned in the interviews with Fellini on Yabla, and Lina Wertmüller’s Pasqualino Sette Bellezze from which Yabla featured the ironic and humoristic opening song from the soundtrack. See also the interview with Lina Wertmüller.

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