Everyone loves the intensity and versatility of Italian cuisine. However, not everyone knows some basic terms that can make any Italian dish even more interesting. For example, if you think you know what “peperoni” means, we suggest you keep reading and prepare to be surprised.
This term means “hunter style,” and refers to a cooking method where the meat of fowl or rabbits (animals who were usually hunted) is braised with tomatoes, onions, vinegar, and oil.
An approximate translation of “boscaiola” would be “woodswoman,” or “woodsman’s wife.” When you live in the woods, mushrooms end up becoming a staple of your diet, so any dish called “alla boscaiola” features mushrooms in tomato sauce. However, in some regions of Italy (like Rome), “alla boscaiola” refers to the combination of sausage and mushrooms.
This is probably the quintessential Italian culinary term. What does “al dente” mean? It literally means “to the teeth,” and it refers to the sensation when you bite pasta or rice. In Italy, mushy and overcooked pasta is frowned upon like sin. The ideal pasta is firm to the bite, or “al dente.” To cook your pasta “al dente,” follow these tips:
- Don’t plunge the pasta into the water. Instead, drop it gently into the pot.
- Stir the pasta as it cooks.
- Don’t trust the cooking time on the package. Use a fork to grab some pasta from the pot and bite it. That’s the only way to know when it’s “al dente”!
Mare e Monti
Mare e monte means, literally, “sea and mountains.” As the name suggests a mare e monti dish combines mushrooms (that’s the “mountain”’ part) and seafood. Some examples of dishes prepared mare-e-monti style include:
It’s important to understand this term, because not knowing what it means may cause misunderstandings when you visit an authentic Italian restaurant.
Although everyone loves pepperoni pizza (with two p’s), pepperoni is an American variation of what Italians call “salame.” If you order a “pepperoni pizza” in Italy, they will serve you a pizza with “peperoni,” or bell peppers. The confusion may not be too bad if you like veggies, but you definitely want to know what you’re ordering!
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