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ITALIAN EASTER MEAL

Published March 31, 2013 by Tony

TRADITIONAL EASTER LUNCH

If you want to have an Easter lunch that reflects the Neapolitan or Italian tradition, you have to keep in mind that the main ingredients to be used in these days must be based on:

Fresh veggie, vegetables: preferably those that this season offers, such as artichokes, peas, cabbage, asparagus. [About artichokes, you can taste variety without thorns (as Romanesco variety), to eat boiled.]
Cold cuts: salami, capicolla, bacon.
Cheeses: ricotta, salt ricotta, provolone, caciotta.
Eggs: preferably boiled.
Meat: lamb, pork.
Pasta: fresh pasta, egg pasta, lasagne, cannelloni.
Pie: any rustic (salt) cake made with dough, eggs, salami, oil or lard.
Desserts: chocolate, any soft cake with candies fruits.

Here are some images to whet your imagination and appetite. Enjoy your meal!

  

       

 

 

 

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FOOD CULTURE

Published February 11, 2012 by Tony

Pasta with beans or Hot dog?
Italian & American eating habits

It’s told, “when in Rome do as the Romans do”, meaning that any country gets its own customs.
About this, one of the differences between Italians and Americans is the approach of eating. I am not referring mainly to menu, but the way we deal with the three daily meals, that we usually differentiate into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Starting with breakfast, for Italians it is not considered a true meal, in the sense that most of us undervalue it. For us, early in the morning, the breakfast is something to do quickly before going out, often reducing itself to a simple coffee or in the best cases to a cappuccino with biscuits. Others prefer to have it even when already in the street or at work, going to a bar and eating a croissant with a cappuccino or coffee, while some prefer tea. I believe no Italian in the early morning would like to eat ham and eggs, omelets or bacon and potatoes, then watered down with fruit or tomato juice or cold milk from the fridge. Thus, the first difference lies in this: you Americans are accustomed to spend some time in the morning for a breakfast rich in calories, while we Italians often run away at work while sipping a coffee. The opposite, however, happens at lunchtime. For most Italians lunch and dinner are considered “sacred” and, work permitting, anyone likes to have it at home together family, dedicating it the right time. For us a traditional meal consists of a first course with pasta, then meat or fish with a side dish, wine or water. Those who do not have the opportunity to eat at home, whereas possible, sit in a hash-house or pizzeria and eat with calm a first course or a pizza. Instead, I know that most of you Americans have not such a lunch and often a quickly one in a cafeteria, because you just give not the same value to the lunch as we do.
Finally we arrive at dinnertime.
This is the time when any Italian family joins together, especially when parents have not met at lunchtime. It’s time to chat and watch TV together. In general, the traditional Italian dinner is composed of a main course with vegetables or meat, or something lighter than traditional lunch. On holidays and Sundays it’s different, anyway.
Overall, we do not have the culture of fast-food, as hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches which only in recent times spread to Italy by the opening of McDonald’s points in any city. Our food culture, which is mostly derived from ancient rural traditions, is based on meals made with vegetables and local products if not homemade even, whereas the family gathered around the table to eat and be together, while only on Sundays or holidays people ate more with some dish more elaborated. Our traditional lunch made with a simple panino (bread roll) or bread’s slices stuffed with something inside, comes with the need for some workers, such as hard-hats, who could not return home or not having enough time, with parents or wives that in the morning prepared them a panino filled with some left-overs to take away. Even though it has then become commonplace among other workers or students, who have replaced the filling with tasty variations, as it’s a panino with ham and mozarella or with tuna-in-olive-oil and cherry-tomatoes.

panino with tuna

Christmas and Zodiac preferences

Published December 24, 2011 by Tony

FOOD AND GIFTS FOR THE ZODIAC SIGNS
The zodiac at the table, the right gift for each of the 12 signs

Zodiaco

Time for gifts and meals and as always, it is not easy to make the right choices. Given the characteristics of each sign, this guide can help you in these choices. As if to say: “Tell me what’s your sign and I’ll know what you like!”

Aries

Zippy and impulsive, Aries is a real eater, eats a lot careless of lunchtimes. He loves good food and in the kitchen knows how to prepare delicious delicacies in an instant with just a few ingredients. This sign do not have a refined palate but knows what he likes. He has a penchant for strong flavors, spicy and tangy. Traditional and perfectionist, wants everything at once and the result must be perfect. Generally simple and direct at the table, Aries likes the informal atmosphere as the one coming out among relatives and old friends. Dynamic and generous, the Aries usually love to travel, novelty and adventure. To make them happy it could be sufficient to organize a big surprise party, a tour to some exotic location, or, for lovers of sport, a subscription to the gym or the stadium. Male or female, the right gift will be everything that underlines his ability and his personality that leads to reassure them. For example a painting or an expensive frame. Having no memory of the past, because his memories are born with him, photo-cameras or video-cameras would be appreciated. With the Aries woman, in particular, you can choose from jewelry, real or fake, important that they are large, heavy, a bit primitive such to let him remember the beginning of the primordial life with which Aries has unconsciously a unbreakable bond.

Taurus

Taurus is the zodiac Gourmet, a bon vivant and a good cook for which the table is a beautiful gratifying ritual to have in a relaxed atmosphere. Tenacious, patient, capable of bearing the hardships of life, but he also enjoys the pleasures that life gives him, remaining optimistic, however. Although refined, loves delicate sauces and soft flavors. Delicate flavors and soft and creamy cakes allure him. Take him by the throat is not easy and for a real Taurus the dishes should not be only good but also beautiful to see. Traditionalist and lover of comfort, Taurus is phlegmatic and romantic with a strong sense of family and as the Cancer, they then love to eat and drink together relatives and close friends. At the same time practical and pleasure-seeking, a solid Toro might want a dinner at a fine restaurant, or a nice comfortable and elegant piece of clothing. Household objects are very appreciated, especially about kitchen, while both men and women, prefer everything home-related. Not being world traveler, with strong roots, this sign prefers beautiful things and quality, often expensive, to make his home more beautiful, getting satisfaction looking around him and seeing what he has achieved. Classy ornaments, design, paintings, pillows, an old frame and so on, are all OK. Keep in mind, however, that the Taurus likes long-lasting objects that can pass from father to son and not frivolous not-in-fashion items.

Gemini

Bright, cheerful and talkative as this sign is, everyone wants his lively company. His food choices are oriented more towards snacks, pretzels and peanuts, sandwiches, chips and sweets, who likes nibbling throughout the day. The way to eat is capricious as his temperament. Gemini at table is divided into two categories: the master chef and the denied. The first does the pleasure of the food the purpose of his life, and wants a different dish every day. The second, instead, barely remember to sit at the table and eat: he prefers to feed on other, as is so busy. The most ironic and curious Gemini likes the variety and quantity, although not averse a good meal, at all. In addition to food quality, selective and cerebral as they are, appreciate novelty and surprises as some exotic recipe accompanied, however, to traditional dishes. Gemini loves to spend the holiday together with friends, acquaintances and partners, because they hate loneliness. Curious and ‘culture lover’ will be happy if you give them a book, or a ticket for a major cultural capital. He needs support and kindness and any intriguing gifts that make him smile will be appreciated. At this restless self-seeking sign, you can give him everything: boxes, cigarette lighters, bucket, ice holder, bottle opener, liquor, holder pills, suitcases, briefcases, handbags, anti-snatching purses. And if tied-up, organizers, agendas, diaries, pens. Gemini by profession or hobby are good writers in genera so, let us help him to note down his thoughts giving him pen and paper together with a book to read, even though he basically thinks that the real good book is what he will write one day.

Cancer

Shy and unsure, is the most sensitive and susceptible sign of the zodiac. Cancer is an excellent gourmet and if has in mind to make a romantic dinner invitation, knows how to prepare delicious dishes. Can listen to the problems of others without getting tired, be patient, but woe to disappoint his expectations, because it can become irritable, intolerant, and then close in its shell without possibility for you then to understand his feelings. The laziness sometimes brings him to fall back on ready-made foods and if he is sad, unhappy and depressed, then consoles himself with cake, pastry and ice cream. The kitchen is always neat and perfect, in fact, his motto is everything at its place, a place for everything. Very traditional and attacked to the family, the cancer at the table has very classic tastes and loves sweets and pastries, being very greedy and needy of attention by all. Reserved but very pleasurable and passionate about good cuisine, are real connoisseurs with simple tastes, but well matched. For the sentimental and moody Cancer the ideal would be a delicate perfume, some object of an ancient craft or a book. Related to childhood memories and fascinated by history, poetry and photography, Cancer would love models and ornaments, as well as books of poetry and photo collections. To make a gift to a typical male or female Cancer, I’d recommend to visit a shopping Mother or Household department where you will find something that can quench his insatiable thirst of love towards children and home. For those who live in search of security and feel not-protected, who are generally more moody sensitive and imaginative, then the choice is more difficult. You can oriented yourself on music (record players, records, tapes, tickets to concerts, history music books) or on poetry and history books. These native, in fact, reliving the events of the past through their link with the great mother, retrieving the necessary security to do so live well.

Leo

The Leo is the king of the zodiac: God help us if it is not the center of attention. Cocky, worldly and chic has generally a good appetite. He manages to make amends for his self-centeredness with incredible bursts of generosity; if he invites you to his house and cannot cook, order everything at the restaurant and then pretends to have done all by himself because he hates failures. With the stove, gets along well, wants to gather all the friends at home and no one should dare to go snooping in his royal kitchen. The great attachment to tradition is satisfied at table with stylish and luxurious things: porcelain and sparkling crystals, damask tablecloths, table worthy of a king. Energetic and passionate, Lions have a preference for large dinners laden with gifts and with many people. Warm but selective, a creature of habit and conservative, the Lions love abundant and spicy food. Generous and convivial, the natives of this sign of Fire feel attraction for everything that is bright and stylish at the same time, and also at Christmas prefer substantial and well presented dishes, that will make them very happy. The brilliant ambitious and passionate Leo love surprises, while having a certain inclination and habit to traditionalism. They like precious objects (earrings, bracelets and necklaces for the lionesses), invitations to exclusive parties and social occasions, elegant clothes and gifts, however, of a certain value. Our friends Leo (men or women) are demanding and difficult to please. The Leones are rich or wealthy, tending to live in comfortable beautiful surroundings, and often already have everything they need. But as they shine with its own light, don’t see others, those around them, so they are often alone. They, therefore, need an act of kindness and appreciates a gift; but if you want to make him really happy, try something that highlights the important his personality and family. For example, will be appreciated books of heraldry, or the stories of the country of origin, that shed light on his family. About objects, it is important they are sumptuous and contribute to make the native shine. Give your prefernce to jewelry adorned with many colored stones and agudy parures. If you are intimate, can also make a gift more personal, like a garment: the Lion always appreciates a scarf, a purse, a pair of gloves, a scarf, a tie, a belt, provided they are signed and slightly eccentric.

Virgo

Rather suspicious, Virgo is a health fanatic. Not the type who loves the news, especially if they have to do with the food. He loves to conclude lunches and dinners with steaming cups of tea, and in his tidy pantry never can miss whole and macrobiotic meals. Very simple and frugal, Virgin loves indulging in habitual routine that gives him great confidence. Very precise and meticulous, is often considered a bit tedious and troublesome, and even if in on the sly, the Virgin is good-hearted, ready to do his very best for the others. In his house there is always a relaxed and comfortable environment, and on the table never miss flowers. The food preferences are oriented generally on the simple and inexpensive one. Meticulous and fussy by definition, the Virgin prefers the simplicity to the exaggerations and in their innate moderation rarely exceed even at Christmas. So, for this reserved and measured sign, well-known for his hypercritical vein, only simple and light recipes will conquer their delicate intestines, as well as a table with around a well-selected group of friends. Elegant and witty, the Virgin loves the simplicity and useful gifts. For example, the classic agenda for the new year, a nice pair of comfortable shoes or any technological accessory (browsers, phones, computers, tablet) will meet with acceptance, because ideal for a sign that knows how to combine aesthetics and practicality. The Virgin, man or woman, is not really one that is easily satisfied: it is a complicated native. Versatile and educated he is never under the spotlights. They will be appreciated sophisticated tools to make jams and pancakes, garden tools, plants and tools, from the simplest to the most modern tools, but also everything that can enrich an insatiable mind; erudition and the love for the nature appease that anxiety that this sign hides well.

Libra

Polite, accommodating and always smiling, is the more diplomatic sign of the zodiac. He does not like to force the situation, always wants to live in perfect harmony, at peace with himself and with others. At table is formal and measured, and also in the role of chef is up to the job, but eat more with their eyes than with the taste buds. She can cook perfectly soft fragrant meals, that look good and taste good, and then also relaxing and have fun together with relatives and friends. Shy and a little cocky, is able to the others do whatever he wants. This applies also and especially in the kitchen. The preferences are oriented towards delicate flavor foods such as bouillon, pasta with vegetables, white meats, shellfish, soft cheeses, vegetable broths. He loves being surrounded by exquisite objects, beautiful and elegant. The Balance people are the Zodiac dandies: they have sophisticated tastes, but are diplomatic friendly, and enjoy whatever is beautiful and refined. For example, jackets for men and evening gowns for women, or valuable perfume. However, the work of a great writer can make inroads in Libra, the sign characterized by strong cultural interests. Both man and woman, the balance is distinguished by his love for beautiful things, art in general and objects that have a history. The obiect can also be cheap but its design must be original and taste-expressing. The Balance wants to be loved and the gift – small or big – must represent your affection towards him. So, choose your gift for your friend with the heart first: a small print, an art book, a high-class perfume, flowers, a curious item or books about music, poetry, literature.

Scorpio

It’s a sensual, alternating periods in which is very attracted to the food and periods in which there is almost no need for nourishment. Refined, but also shady and suspicious, has the reputation of being number one in terms of eros and breathtaking surprises. Helped by a healthy appetite, prefers strong flavors, savory sauces and spicy foods. His tastes are very specific and usually eats everything without prevention. When ventures in the kitchen is a perfectionist, very able to adjust the flavor with a pinch of herbs or spices. Scorpion rarely becomes a chef, he prefers to invite friends and grant them carte blanche, and this explains the popularity of its meetings. By the food he wants instant gratification, and being very reserved and passionate, even at Christmas always appreciate a little of originality in the dishes and something special and mischievous if possible. Magnetic and mysterious, the Scorpion likes special gifts. Exotic objects, original ornaments, esoteric books, thrillers and essays about psychology too. This troubled Water sign prefers gifts embellished with an ambiguous and sensual touch. Even the cinema and theater are among their main interests: a ticket to a show or best drama might be a good choice. It could also be fine a black humor and eroticism book, even though the game that excites him most is the mental. For older people might be interesting anything that can detach his mind from the body’s needs. So you could also buy books that tell the life of a saint (better if a previous sinner). Scorpio likes intelligent and unconventional gifts, something that encourage him to overcome his innate instinct of self-destruction and punishment. At this level, are good all readings that carry towards high mental states: religions, yoga, mysterious cults. Or stories of spies, murders, war stories: everything that leads man to the threshold of death and risk. Equally interesting any good game that require mental application, such as chess and some sophisticated puzzles.

Sagittarius

Idealistic, tenacious and unstoppable, sociable par excellence, Sagittarius has the reputation of being a good fork. His appetite is very strong, and is a great taster who loves the taste, the smell and the sensation of fullness that a good meal gives. In his imagination the joys of the table have a privileged place, and when sit at the table is serious, and it is better not to tempt its susceptibility with beautiful plates, but poor in substance, even if he dislike to spend much time sitting at the table. Adventurous and enjoyable, the fearless Archer does not move aside when it comes to food, and at Christmas lunch – as for starters – abounds greatly. Curious and experimental, they mix constantly tradition and innovation while it is not difficult to see them happy if next to a traditional dish also can taste an exotic specialty. We have two types of Sagittarius, even alternating one another in the course of life. The first is a person pleased with himself and about what he did, pleasure-seeking, pleasure-loving who appreciates the more jovial side of life. The second is the Sagittarius, who dominated by Neptune, is still in the grip of a search for happiness and far havens. For the friends of the pleasure-seeking, the choice of gift is easier, because the enthusiastic Sagittarius gives a value to everything, and whatever it is, will be appreciated, not for what it is but for what he represents in his imagination. Sagittarius is also very athletic, so every article in this field will be appreciated. If your friends, men or women, are the second type, I would recommend to visit the various shops with items from far lands: the gift more distant and more will be appreciated. Ok, then, for colorful kites, the burning oriental perfumes, ritual masks: better yet a plane ticket, a cruise, so that our native goes by itself to take what he likes best. In general, however, the Sagittarius, rich in ideas and imagination, loves big an unusual gifts, as well as does not disdain something precious and beautiful. The sign is very demanding, and cannot stand the restrictions in every aspect of daily life, especially at Christmas.

Capricorn

Discreet, prudent and hardworking, the attitude toward food of Capricorn is very balanced and very demanding, because the table is not uppermost in his thoughts. On his watchful eye nothing can escape, it is better not to improvise with him, especially when you want to invite him. He loves the poor and popular cuisine, prepared with simple ingredients. Simple and not-talkative is the type who looks to the point. His appetite is generally robust, although not the most demanding palate. The Goat is a cook that leaves nothing to chance, but follows closely to the letter all the instructions in the recipe, collecting applause and acclaim. As a strict nature and a little too severe, Capricorn, like the Virgin, prefer quality rather than quantity. So at Christmas, he will allow himself some recipes little more elaborate than usual, always within the limits of his usual caution. Practical and essential, the Capricorn loves as gifts any knick-knacks for the home and everything useful for office and work in general. Very refined, a bit cautious and sober, Capricorn shuns luxury and look to the reality of things. Generalizing, we can say that the Capricorn typically do not receive too many presents, first of all because they are shy and the obligation of gifts, even those of the closest occurrences, is deleted and forgotten and, therefore, they receive gifts only from people who are loving them a lot. Grumpy as they are, they never really tell if a gift is welcome or not. Capricorn is all aimed towards their intimacy and den, even if their home is unadorned: the only things that can warm up his room are the books, but with fine bindings, possibly leather. The technique fascinates him, and Capricorn men and women will appreciate boxes and big boxes with tools, for cutting, sawing, to make frames, woodwork and other materials being their preferred hobby; and taking account of this you could help them to enrich their private workspace.

Aquarius

Idealistic, innovative and unconventional, but never without appearing too, the Water Bearer has a natural inclination in finding new ideas. Only he knows how to be truly a free spirit and for this he eats at random, even though likes the variety and would like to change the menu every day, because disliking the routine. The appetite is usually not very pronounced and towards the table has an attitude a bit distracted and without obligation. He prefers simple-course, lightly cooked meats and fast food that does not take away time to his commitments. About food, the Aquarian is uneven and unpredictable as in life, while preparing meals should not be a duty but a pleasure. The genius is his forte but not the punctuality. Eat at times very flexible, sometimes almost impossible, and sometimes he forgets everything. Unconventional, unpredictable and creative, Aquarians are interested in technology and innovations in all fields, from artistic to the scientific one. Any unusual and particularly issue attracts their attention and excites them, while do not like too classic and traditional gifts. Phones, personal computers, but also paintings and art books are among the most suitable gifts for this sign. First you need to take account of the great openness of Aquarius, a wise sign : the culture and novelty from anywhere, provided that they are bearers of wind renovator, fascinate them. Books that talk about big ideas, political, books that tell of man’s journey to the mythical freedom. So any technical object, no antique, but useful items, essential, practical, long linked to the latest inventions of technology: radio, record player, audio, alarm clocks, calculators. And because the music is able to let him dream, don’t’ forget new CD compilation, MP3 or headphones that let him isolated from the real world for a while.

Pisces

Sweet and romantic, always engaged to pursue their dreams, Pisces are generous unselfish and prefer to cook more for others than for themselves. Equipped with the most refined tastes, their preferences go to the substantial and elaborated main courses and, as they are as good as bread, are often “prey” to some scroungers and opportunists friends. The Fishes know how to welcome guests with warmth and sympathy, putting everyone at ease. They consider the food a basic need as well as joyful and rewarding opportunity to enjoy the gifts of the earth, while their bigger passion are the cakes. Sweet tooth, such as Cancer, the fatalists Fishes give great importance to the aesthetics of the dishes because people with good taste, intuition and observation. Elegant and a little detached, attach great importance to the quality of food, however, preferring to refrain in eating more to give way to cakes, especially if they are the classic chocolate cake, which will erase their pain. Dreamers and sentimental Pisces are able to develop a strong sense of friendship. More spiritual than material, to them matters most the thinking behind the purchase than the gift itself. Although they know how to be diplomatic and delicate are quite difficult but appreciate works of art, books, painting, and music the great passion of this dreamer sign, as well as a nice trip to some exotic island. It is not easy to make then a gift : they are so complicated. Pisces, with the Moon in exaltation, are pure fantasy, and the gift must be a game that transports them on that plane of unreality in which they seem to feel so good. On this basis, any kind of art object is appreciated: with its great sensitivity Pisces understands the true art even in the simplest objects. A beautiful papier-press, a tinplate can, a liberty frame will have a place of honor on thier desk. As for the music, remember their sensitivity and turn to melodic CDs . For an unusual gift are also fine coral and shells of distant seas.

A  U  G  U  R  I

ALBERO DI NATALE

ITALIAN DISHES PRONOUNCE

Published October 24, 2011 by Tony

Correct Italian dishes Pronounce

Italian_Menu
We all know that Italian restaurants are widely available, often inexpensive, usually have a romantic atmosphere and the food is very delicious and particular. Besides, it’s well-known worldwide that Italian diet (and Neapolitan specially) is very healthy and balanced.
But, unluckily, not anybody knows Italian language or able to pronounce exactly the name of the food while ordering by an Italian Menu and I think no one wants to sound fumbling or silly in that circumstance. Also if Italian food is such a big part of American culture, by now with most dishes perfectly acceptable English pronunciations — surely there will be some dish butchered even by well-meaning diners. How many person makes a big deal out of rolling the “R’s” when ordering spaghetti carbonara, for instance?
I can’t know the restaurant you get ready to go or the dishes in its menu so, I’ll limit myself to the most common Italian dishes you possibly can find in the menu, but you may ask me for other with no problem….
As a real Italian voice is worth more than hundreds of tips, cliking on the dish  you will hear the exact Italian pronunciation. Hope it will be pleasant and useful for all of you that like Italian dishes.

carpaccio
APPETIZERs

BRUSCHETTA
It’s a common appetizer (correctly called ANTIPASTO, meaning “before meal” in Italian, while ANTIPASTI is the plural), usually made with crouton and tomato. Please, don’t pronounce it “brewshhetta” because in Italian the “ch” seems a hard “K” with a well pronounced “s” ahead.
CAPRESE (it means coming from Capri)
A simple salad made with mozzarella, slices of fresh tomatoes and basil.
CARPACCIO
Well, probably in Italy we find many different recipe for the carpaccio. Beef carpaccio was created at Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1950 and legend has it that this dish was created for a frequent guest whose doctor had placed her on a diet forbidding cooked meat. Carpaccio di pesce (fish carpaccio) follows a similar concept, being prepared with very thin and marinated (uncooked) fish, the one I like more. Usually, different fillets of fishes are combined as Salmon, Swordfish, Alaskan halibut, Bream, Tilapia, Kingfish, whose long process of marinating brings the fish to become fork-tender and to lose that fish-smell that someone dislikes, especially children.
PROSCIUTTO E MELONE (also Cantaloupe or Muskmelon)
PROSCIUTTO E MOZZARELLA
INSALATA DI MARE
A seafood salad mainly made with octopus, vongolas and mussels.
POLPO ALL’INSALATA (salad of boiled octopus)
Note that the fresh octopus (not referring to the small ones) is a dainty seafood very common in the south Italy where there even is a rite to cook it. In the past when a fisher caught an octopus he had to kill it in a rude way – usually by some bite on the head or banging it against a rock to let it become tender. Once pulled away the entrails, it then had to be cooked in few boiling water dipping into and lifting up it a couple of times before to leave it. Nowadays, if we buy a living octopus, keep it in the freezer for a day at least, always with purpose to make more tender the hard inner tissue.
PANZEROTTI or CROCCHETTE (croquettes)
The potato panzerotti or croquettes are made with a mashed potato filling, stuffed with cubes of fresh mozzarella, cheese and finely chopped parsley, then breaded with fresh breadcrumbs before frying. While panzerotti are cylinder-shaped, croquettes can be small or big balls and made with rice and egg too. In this case we call them ARANCINI (from the word arancia=orange) that usually is part of the dish “Frittura all’Italiana” or “Frittura Napoletana” (Neapolitan fried) or “Fritto misto” (mixed fried) as someone call it too.

gnocchi
STARTERs
Sometimes you could read the word “Casareccio” or “Casarecce”… don’t worry because it should be a good sign. It’s a typical Neapolitan term used to mean “homemade” and referred to the pasta mainly, thus choose it with confidence.

GNOCCHI
Just dumplings! In Italy, these consist of morsels of pasta made with potato and flour and served in a tomato sauce. If you’re lucky, they’ll be “fatti in casa” (homemade) and fresher and soft. The “g” in gnocchi just modifies the “n” sound (sort of like the Spanish ñ), becoming nasally … “gn” as gnome.
MINESTRONE
Italian is tricky because unlike in English, vowels at the end of a word are never silent. English speakers tend to overcompensate for this by exaggerating the vowel sound at the end of a word, for instance, saying “minestron-EE”, while in Italian this last sound has a much lighter touch. If you don’t want bother with the “E”, you can pronounce it as “Mean-ehs-tron-ih.” or truncating it if you want, having the Americanized version of the word (with the silent “e”), but don’t add any extra vowels.
LASAGNA
A flat sheet of baked pasta prepared in different ways and with different ingredients. Garfield’s favorite dish is comprised of lasagna, but is actually called at the plural “lasagne” in Italian.
SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE (clams)
Sometimes you can find CAPESANTE (scallops) as clams.
SPAGHETTI (or LINGUINE) AGLI SCAMPI (lobsters)
Often called ALLO SCOGLIO (sea-rock to mean sea-life) when prepared with different fresh shellfishes or clams.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
SPAGHETTI ALL’AMATRICIANA
SPAGHETTI AGLIO E OLIO (garlic and oil)
SPAGHETTI AL POMODORO
In this case the dish could be prepared with any sort of pasta and called as “PASTA AL POMODORO” (Tomato pasta). Some original Neapolitan or Italian chef could call it “AL FILETTO” (to mean a fast sauce made with fresh cherry tomato and oil simply). Italians call it “AL SUGO” too, where “sugo” refers to the tomato sauce. We even call the most elaborate RAGU’ as sugo sometimes. About ragù, let me mention the two most important ones we have in Italy, the Neapolitan and the Bolognese, the first called beef ragù because made with different pieces of meats. Neapolitan ragù is very similar to and may be ancestral to the Italian-American “Sunday gravy”, the primary difference being the addition of a greater variety of meat in the American version, most famously meatballs (whence spaghetti and meatballs), braciole, sausage, and pork chops. Bolognese, instead, is made with minced veal and carrot. The people of Bologna traditionally serve their famous ragù with freshly made egg-pasta tagliatelle (tagliatelle alla bolognese) or with their traditionally green “lasagna”. It should be noted that the Italians do not pair Ragù alla Bolognese with spaghetti. Wider shaped pasta are thought to hold up to the heavy sauce better.
SPAGHETTI AL PESTO (pestle)
A famous Genoese recipe made with a sauce of vegetable, consisting of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano. Pesto means pounded, crushed, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle.
PASTA E FAGIOLI (beans)
Sometimes you can find the name “Borlotti”, an Italian red type of beans we use to get a soup too.
PASTA E LENTICCHIE (lentils)
PASTA E CECI (chickpeas)
FUSILLI
This is a common Italian type of pasta. Fusilli are long, thick, corkscrew shaped and the word presumably comes from fusile, archaic or dialectal word for “rifle” (fucile in modern Italian), referring to the spiral-grooved barrel of the latter. The word can also mean “little spindles” in standard Italian.
FETTUCCINE
Another type of pasta. Fettuccine (literally “little ribbons” in Italian) is popular in Roman cuisine and is a flat thick noodle made of egg and flour wider than but similar to the TAGLIATELLE, typical of Bologna. They are eaten with “sugo”. Fettuccine are traditionally made fresh while dried tagliatelle is a commercially product. A popular fettuccine dish in North America is “Fettuccine Alfredo”, while spinach fettuccine are made from spinach, flour and eggs.
PAPPARDELLE are a typical Roman pasta similar but larger than tagliatelle and the name derives from the verb “pappare” (to gobble up).
CANNELLONI (from the word “canna=barrel or pipe” because their cylindrical shape)
They are made with fresh pasta served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce (ragù mostly).
PASTA ALLA BOSCAIOLA (lumberjack pasta)
Because made with mushrooms.
TORTELLINI
The name comes by their shape because tortellini are a ring-shaped pasta. They are typically stuffed with a mix of meat (pork loin, prosciutto), cheese or vegetable. Originally from the Italian region of Emilia they are usually served in broth, meat broth, either of beef, chicken, or both.
PASTA ALL’ARRABBIATA (letterally pissed off pasta)
So called because quite spicy.
RISOTTO
By this word we mean any dish rice-based and according to the main ingredient we can get:
RISOTTO ALLA PESCATORE (fisherman, to mean with seafood) made with shelled claims, mussels, prawns, minced octopus and cuttlefish.
RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE (of Milan) which main ingredient is the saffron.


PIZZA MARGHERITA
Pizza Margherita is the most common and known Italian pizza and surely the simpler and genuine one. Created in Naples in 1889 when the queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, the consort of Umberto I, visited Naples with her king. Don Raffaele Esposito, who owned Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to prepare a special dish in honour of the Queen’s visit. Esposito consulted his wife who was the real pizza expert and together they developed a pizza featuring tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. He named it the Margherita Pizza, after the city’s guest of honor. It was a tricolor pie that recall the Italian flag colors. Note that Mar-ghe-rita is spelled with an “e” and not an “a” — this is what distinguishes it from the Mexican drink Margarita, made with tequila. You must say: Marg-EH-rita, where the “ghe” is similar to the one in the word ghetto . About pizza or spaghetti, often you can find the vegetable “RUCOLA” as ingredient. If you don’t know it, I advise you to taste it first in a simple fresh salad, because Rucola has a particular sharp flavor you should try before ordering a Rucola-based starter or second-course.

mozzarella-in-carrozza
SECOND COURSEs

BRASATO (braised)
This Italian recipe is a traditional dish of the autumnal period in Lombardy; it is made with veal meat in an only piece and red wine and so called because the meal must be soaked in the wine.
MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA (literally meaning mozzarella on the couch)
Who doesn’t know the Neapolitan mozzarella? And do you know that it also can be fried?
To get mozzarella in carrozza, two slices of bread are pressed around mozzarella cheese, floured, dipped in egg and then deep-fried, so the mozzarella goes….. on board!
FRITTATA (fried)
Frittata is an egg-based dish similar to omelette or quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as cheeses, vegetables or pasta even. My mom made it with onions (frittata di cipolle) or with
thin slices of courgette (zucchini) but for we all the frittata par excellence is the one made with pasta. At that time, the (boiled) pasta in surplus wasn’t thrown away (!) but reused at the occurrence as a second course or as a good picnic dish, just making a frittata. Just a curiosity now. For Neapolitans the word “frittata” means a sort of mess too, a confused situation just like to this dish where the beaten eggs mix with other ingredients.
PANINI
Panini is the plural word of Panini (sandwiches) so, if you want just one Italian sandwich, then you’d order a “panino”. The original should be made with Italian bread, usually round or tapered at the edges and stuffed with simple ingredients as prosciutto, cheese, lettuce, tomato or more elaborate as salsiccia (sausage) and friarielli (the typical Neapolitan vegetable “Brassica rapa subsp. sylvestris var. esculenta”), a sort of just-grown turnip tops, with a very unique taste, perfect fellow for pork.
SCALOPPINE (scallops)
A thin slice of meat, especially veal or poultry cooked in a rich sauce, usually of wine with seasonings. The most common recipes are probably Scaloppine al Marsala, made with Sicily’s renowned fortified white wine; Scaloppine al Vino Bianco made with white wine, and Scaloppine al Limone, made with lemon juice. However, there are also many variations on the theme.
POLLO or CONIGLIO ALLA CACCIATORE (hunter’s rabbit or chicken)
This ‘hunter style’ dish is a braise by some tomato and chilli.
BISTECCA (or chicken too) ALLA DIAVOLA (deviled Steak)
So called because the grilled meat is spicy.
BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA (T-bone steak Florentine style)
You should order it if you like underdone meat and hearty eater.
A favorite of Tuscan cuisine, bistecca alla fiorentina consists of a thickly cut and very large T-bone or porterhouse steak grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, and seasoned with salt and, sometimes, black pepper, and olive oil.
PARMIGIANO (PARMESAN)
It is the best Italian cheese we all grate onto pasta and so called because coming from the Italian city of Parma (Prosciutto is also from Parma). Probably expensive because a cow’s cheese aged for a year, at least. Useless say it is delicious to eat as second course or appetizer, accompanied with prosciutto or any other Italian “cold cut”. Usually, Parmesan is the informal American word for this cheese, which is why the Kraft cheese in the green bottle says Parmesan, and not Parmigiano. But to be correct and make good you should say Parmigiano.
PECORINO
This is another traditional Italian cheese whose name comes from pecora (sheep) , because just a sheep’s milk cheese with a distinctive and strong aroma and flavour. This cheese is often used in some particular dish as “Spaghetti alla carbonara”, i.e. In Italy two renowned pecorino cheeses Roman and Sardinian.
PARMIGIANA di melenzane (eggplant)
Despite this name means “from Parma”, because made with grated cheese, it’s a Sicilian and Neapolitan recipe. Note that this word get nothin to do with “parmigiano” having as last vowel (we call it vocale) an “a” and not an “e”.
POLPETTE
(meatballs)
This meatball is made from an amount of ground meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, cheese, spices, and possibly eggs. Meatballs are usually prepared and rolled by hand, and cooked by frying or braising in sauce (as ragù).
PESCE ALL’ACQUA PAZZA (literally means fish with crazy water)
For “crazy water” chefs mean a mix of oil, cherry tomatoes, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and water with which the fresh fish must cook together. It’s a healthy recipe giving to the fish a tender taste.
ESPRESSO
Most Italians end their meal with a coffee, the most widespread and appreciated drink.
The word “espresso” means “FAST” (as express) in Italian, because the coffee machines in the coffee bar do it in a faster and concentrated way, compared with the ordinary coffee made at home by the traditional coffee makers. Anyway, note that in this word there’s no “X” but three well-pronounced “s”, instead! Express in not and Italian word and quite different from the Espresso coffee we mean here. Also, this totally doesn’t matter when dining in America, but if you ever find yourself on a date in Italy, don’t order a cappuccino (coffee + milk) after dinner, that’s only a breakfast drink. Remember that for Italians, children even, the milk just is not a drink given during whichever meal.

tiramisu
DESSERTs

BISCOTTI
FYI, biscotti (cookies) is the plural of biscuit and since no one will order just one biscuit only, it’s common to say biscotti.
TIRAMISU’ (literally raise me up!)
A dessert consisting of layers of lady fingers soaked in coffee and liqueur and a cream made up of mascarpone cheese, eggs and sugar, covered with powdered chocolate.
BABA’
SFOGLIATELLA
CROSTATA (tart or pie)
A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. The jams that are traditionally used as a filling are cherries, peaches, apricots, berries. The crostata can also be blind-baked and then filled with pastry cream (crema pasticcera) topped with pieces of fresh fruit; this is called crostata di frutta (fruits). A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta.
PANNA COTTA
A creamy set dessert similar to the BUDINO (from English pudding, with influence from French boudin).
ZUPPA INGLESE (literally English soup)
This dessert, often gets translated as “trifle”, gets nothing to do with “soup” but comes from the verb “inzuppare” which means “to dunk”. It is a layered dessert like trifle with pan di spagna (sponge cake) or soft biscuits known as savoiardi (ladyfingers) dipped in liqueur.
AMARO (bitter)
At the restaurant, for Amaro we mean whatever spirit drink or after meals (bitter) liqueur also if it’s in fashion to drink here a “grappa” or a chilled “limoncello”, especially after the dessert.

drink

In the end…. when in doubt, pronounce slowly every syllable, simply.
If you’re unsure of how to attack a word — say, “carpaccio,” “amatriciana” or “peperoncino,” just remember that there are no silent vowels in Italian, and usually the words are spelled phonetically (unlike English!). Our “c” is your “ch,” while our “ch” is a “k” — but beyond that, word pronunciation is pretty straight forward. But also remember that few mistakes are so egregious as to actually be a turn-off to your date. Try to pronounce things correctly when possible, but no one expects you to actually be fluent. You’re not an Italian, merely an American who knows his or her way around an Italian menu.
Remember, all this is told by an Italian guy living in Naples… so trust in me.

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ITALIAN DISH

Published October 5, 2011 by Tony

SPAGHETTI WITH VONGOLA(s)

spaghetti vongola
How to prepare the original spaghetti with vongolas dish, by a real Neapolitan guy recipe.
Note “vongola” should be singular so, I will use vongola
s as plural.
It’s a great Italian slight meal for any occasion.
Hope you know the Italian kind of pasta called spaghetti and what vongola is. Vongolas are freshwater mussels, just a marine bivalves whose scientific name is Venerupis decussate. We called it ‘Vongola verace’ when picked from sea and not from breeding that, obviously is more delicious. The true spaghetti -vongola are made with no tomato but with olive oil, garlic and parsley only.
As pasta you can use spaghetti,  linguina or vermicelli according to your taste and pasta thickness, where linguina is bigger than spaghetti and with a square cross-section while round for spaghetti and vermicelli.

Ingredients for 4 people:
– 2 Pounds (or more)  of clams; – 350- 400 gr of spaghetti; – ½  cup (150 milliliter roughly ) of white wine; – A sprig of fresh Parsley; – Salt; – Extra virgin olive oil (3,5 oz. roughly)  ; – 1 Garlic clove; – pepper or red chili pepper (optional).

spaghetti
vongolas

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Prepare the clams

Pour the vongolas into a large colander and leave under cold running water for roughly for some  minutes to remove any grit from the shells. If you have bought them and have to prepare the dish later, you should keep them in salt water or wrap them in a wet table napkin and keep in the fridge where you can store them for more time even.

Step 3: Heat the water

Place a large pot of salted water on a high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and bring to the boil.

Step 4: Drain the clams

Place a large frying pan on high heat, add olive oil and garlic and stir until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the fire and put the drained vongolas adding some splashes of white (dry) wine (even spumante if you already have an open bottle). Place on high heat and stir from time to time. Vongolas needs few minutes to open and cock, 5 minutes should be sufficient, and a minute before blowing out add the chopped fresh parsley and as optional some paring of red chili pepper.

vongola

Step 5: Cook the spaghetti

Once the water is boiling, uncover and put the spaghetti in. Bring the water back to the boil, whilst stirring and cook for 8-10 minutes. The timing is often written on the packaging of sundry brands and depending on thicknesses.  You should taste the pasta from time to time to check the right cooking point because pasta never should be too soft (softish consistency).  A tip: –  boiled consistency of pasta is called ‘al dente’ (Italian for to the tooth), meaning soft but with texture, sometimes even with bite in the center.

Step 7: Drain the pasta

Put the pasta in the colander, allow it to drain and then transfer it back to the same pan.

spaghetti-vongola

Step 8: Add juice to spaghetti

Using the slotted spoon to prevent any clams from falling, tip some juice from the clams over the spaghetti, and stir. Add vongolas at any portion (dish) and serve still warm. Please, don’t forget to do the “scarpetta” in the end, as Neapolitan call it, it’s to say to clean your plate with a piece of (Italian) bread. Any Italian white wine should be the best drink for this dish, also if I advise a fresh and aromatized Neapolitan wine as “Greco di Tufo” or “Fano”.  
Enjoy and YUMMY!

spaghetti-vongolasGreco di tufo