Italian Lessons


Lessons for topic Recipes

Lo scarpariello (A Humble Pasta Dish Fit for a King)

Even though crime is the name of the game on Wednesdays, there's always plenty to learn that has nothing to do with crime and everything to do with culture.


This lesson refers to a mini-episode of I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone.



When Paolo and Lojacono are at Lojacono's favorite trattoria da Letizia for dinner, she brings them a pasta dish. How could we not mention it? It's called lo scarpariello.


Ecco qua lo scarpariello. -Grazie. -Prego.

Here is the "scarpariello." -Thanks. -You're welcome.

Caption 49, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone - EP2 Rabbia

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When we see a long word ending in ello, there is a good chance it's an elaboration of a pre-existing word. Can you detect the noun scarpa in there? 


What do shoes have to do with pasta you might ask? Legend has it that the origins of this pasta dish be traced to the Quartieri Spagnoli ("Spanish" neighborhoods) of Naples, where shoemakers tended to reside, in earlier times. Although the Italian word for "shoemaker" is il calzolaio, lo scarparo is a regional (Southern) form of lo scarpaio, a variant of il calzolaio. Their day off — il giorno di riposo — was lunedì — Monday. So Monday was "leftovers day." The leftover pasta sauce from Sunday dinner was recycled to make a delicious pasta dish on Monday.


In addition, some of the ingredients, such as the pecorino or Parmigiano might have been given to the shoemaker in place of payment for shoe repair. But over time, as often happens with humble recipes, the dish has risen from its status as un piatto di recupero (leftovers) to a simple but elegant favorite, made with the simple, fresh ingredients available locally: pomodorini (cherry or other small-sized tomatoes), basilico (basil), peperoncino (chili peppers), aglio (garlic), and olio di oliva (olive oil) with the addition of grated pecorino romano and/or Parmigiano.


Here is a great and fun video recipe for this dish. Attenzione! Luca parla molto veloce (Luca speaks very fast) but he shows you what he is doing, which makes it easier to understand.



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Come fare la panzanella (how to make panzanella)

In a recent series of videos, Arianna makes panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad. Rather than giving you a list of ingredients and their precise quantities, she improvised, especially because it's a very simple recipe, and quantities aren't of utmost importance. Still, some viewers might want more detailed quantities and a more codified list of ingredients, so here, we are providing a recipe in Italian, with quantities. It will be good practice for trying out other recipes that are in Italian. It can be a lot of fun, and is truly a great way to get acquainted, in a different way, with the Italian language, not to mention with the food you will be preparing.



Su questo tavolo potete vedere tanti e coloratissimi ingredienti

On this table, you can see lots of very colorful ingredients

e voi vi chiederete "per fare cosa?"

and you must be asking yourself, "to do what?"

Per, ehm, preparare una buonissima ricetta della tradizione toscana.

To, uh, make a really good recipe from the Tuscan tradition.

Captions 2-4, In cucina con Arianna - la panzanella

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Ingredienti per 4 persone:

500 g di pane toscano raffermo (1 lb dried Tuscan bread)
2 pomodori grandi maturi (2 ripe tomatoes)
1 cetriolo (1 cucumber, peeled)
1 cipolla rossa (1 red onion)
qualche foglia di basilico per profumare (some fresh basil leaves for flavor)
sale qb (salt to taste)
olio extravergine di oliva qb (good olive oil to taste)
aceto di vino bianco qb (wine vinegar to taste- not too much, not too little)

Procedimento (procedure)

Mettere il pane in ammollo per circa mezz’ora; deve risultare bagnato anche all’interno ma non troppo molle (soak the bread in water — and the juice from the tomatoes if they are juicy — The bread should be soft, but not pasty).
Strizzare e sbriciolare grossolanamente il pane in una ciotola capiente (wring it out with your hands and crumble it in a large bowl).
Aggiungere tutte le verdure precedentemente tagliate (Add all the vegetables, which have been previously chopped into small chunks or cubes).
Condire con sale, olio e aceto (season with salt, olive oil and vinegar).
Mescolare bene e aggiungere, in ultimo, il basilico per profumare (mix well and add the basil at the end).




Many people prepare the panzanella in advance so that the flavors can blend, and they find it tastes even better cooled off in the fridge for about a half an hour.

It's best to wait until you have good, seasonal vegetables and fresh basil to make this dish. Perfect for hot summer evenings or noontime meals. It can also be served as an appetizer.

Wondering what qb means? It stands for quanto basta (as much as you need).

Buon appetito!



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