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9 Italian Foods You're Probably Mispronouncing

Spoon University logo Spoon University 4/19/2019 Olivia Stultz

This one goes out to all the people who have been to an Italian restaurant (yes... Olive Garden does count) and have been utterly embarrassed by their inability to pronounce what's on the menu. Risotto MilaneseSpiedini Alla Romana

Luckily, not too many Italian dishes are difficult to pronounce. However, for the ones that are and happen to be some of the most popular, check out the correct pronunciations bellow. 

#SpoonTip: If you want to "test" yourself on if you could pronounce these words right the first time, read the headliner out loud, then scroll down to see how it's actually said. 

1. Risotto

a plate of food: Italian rice lemon © Nathalie Kent Italian rice lemon

How it's actually pronounced: ri-ˈsȯ-(ˌ)tō, ri-saught-oh

The word risotto is actually a variation on the word, rice. The dish is prepared by boiling rice in a broth (which can be veggie, fish or other meat-variety based) until it becomes creamy. Risotto is traditionally served as a first course and is usually seasoned with parmesan cheese and/or saffron. Common dishes include mushroom risotto, vegetable risotto verde, risotto alla milanese, and orzo risotto with cavolo nero. 

2. Gnocchi

a plate of food with broccoli: Italian #ibbys WUSTL © Charlotte Ohana Italian #ibbys WUSTL

How it's actually pronounced: N(Y)OK-ee, n-yo-key

These little dumplings are made of potato or semolina flour and served with sauce. The preparation is similar to pasta, as they are cooked by boiling. However, gnocchi does need to be pressed with a fork beforehand to create its signature shape. Some common dishes include gnocchi & tomato bake, spinach gnocchi with butter and sage, gnocchi with truffle, and ~the famous~ Trader Joe's sweet potato gnocchi. 

#SpoonTip: A single gnocchi dumpling is called "gnoccho". 

3. Focaccia

a piece of food: Italian bread olive © Tara Bitran Italian bread olive

How it's actually pronounced: fō-ˈkä-ch(ē-)ə, foh-ka-chia

Focaccia is actually made pretty similarly to pizza as the dough is flat oven-baked. In the end, the bread's texture turns out reminiscent of baked pizza dough. You can find focaccia as sandwich bread or as an appetizer/snack before a meal. Some common variations include focaccia al rosmarino, focaccia con salvia, and focaccia with rosemary and cheese. 

4. Prosciutto

a plate of food on a table: Italian ham prosciutto © Parker Dean Italian ham prosciutto

How it's actually pronounced: prō-ˈshü-(ˌ)tō, pro-shu-toh

Prosciutto is an uncooked, Italian ham. The preparation requires a pork leg to be salted and dry-cured for around two months. The result is a savory deli-style cut ham that can be used as pizza toppings, mixed in pasta sauce, and as an option on the charcuterie board. Some well-known prosciutto dishes include prosciutto crudo, saltimbocca, and prosciutto di Modena. 

#SpoonTip: The plural word for prosciutto is "prosciutti". 

5. Ciabatta

a close up of a sandwich: Italian sandwich ciabatta © Kaely Gallagher Italian sandwich ciabatta

How it's actually pronounced: chə-ˈbä-tə, che-ba-tah

Literally translated to "slipper", Ciabatta is distinguished for its long shape. Another signature feature of the Italian white bread is its crispy exterior yet soft, porous interior. All of these qualities combined attribute to why Ciabatta is most commonly used as sandwich bread. As it is fairly simple to make, there have been many variations on the recipe based on the region of origin and main ingredients, some of which include ciabatta integrale (wholemeal ciabatta) and ciabatta al latte (when milk is added to dough). 

6. Parmigiana

a close up of a plate of food with a slice of pizza: Lot 12 on Instagram: “It’s a Parmigiana Kinda Day! 😍” © lot12chatswood on Instagram Lot 12 on Instagram: “It’s a Parmigiana Kinda Day! 😍”

How it's actually pronounced: pär-mi-ˈjä-nə, par-meh-ja-na

Parmigiana actually represents a collection of foods that are breaded, fried, topped with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. The OG parmigiana is actually eggplant parmigiana (aka parmesan). It wasn't until the 1950's when Americans took the dish a step further and introduced the veal and chicken varieties. Eggplant isn't the only veggie that can get the parmigiana treatment: artichokes and zucchini can be used as well. 

7. Bruschetta

a plate of food: Italian tomato basil © Amanda Shulman Italian tomato basil

How it's actually pronounced: brü-ˈshe-tə, bru-sheh-tah

Bruschetta can be customized to your liking, however most are essentially thick slices of gilled bread topped with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs. Some other variations call for toppings such as mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, meats, and/or beans. They are usually served as an appetizer or snack. 

#SpoonTip: The plural word for bruschetta is "bruschette". 

8. Spiedino

a plate of food with broccoli: Ale Millocchio Caruso on Instagram: “Spiedino di: Carota arrostita con panure al prezzemolo e noci,Topinambur alla liquirizia;servito su vellutata di zucca.…” © alessio_carusopascoschi on Instagram Ale Millocchio Caruso on Instagram: “Spiedino di: Carota arrostita con panure al prezzemolo e noci,Topinambur alla liquirizia;servito su vellutata di zucca.…”

How it's actually pronounced: spēəˈdē(ˌ)nō, spi-di-noh

The Italian word spiedino means "skewer" in English, so it's no surprise that it is a dish based around food on a stick. The dish itself is meat rolled around a filling or minced and formed into balls that are batter-dipped and cooked on a skewer. Some common dishes include spiedini alla romana, spiedini siciliani, and even Carrabba's own spiedino de mare.  

#SpoonTip: The plural word for spiedino is "spiedini". 

9. Panettone

a slice of cake sitting on top of a piece of bread: Carlo Cerri Bakery Vision on Instagram: “Panettoni per tutte le stagioni... Lo so che l estate non è il periodo giusto ma come faccio io a non giocare con i miei impasti e lieviti…” © carlocerribakeryvision on Instagram Carlo Cerri Bakery Vision on Instagram: “Panettoni per tutte le stagioni... Lo so che l estate non è il periodo giusto ma come faccio io a non giocare con i miei impasti e lieviti…”

How it's actually pronounced: pä-nə-ˈtō-nē, pah-neh-toh-ni

I am sure we can all agree that one of the first signs of Christmas is the stacks of panettone at your local grocery store. Love it or hate it, the Italian sweet bread is a Christmas/New Year's staple. Most contain candied fruit and/or chocolate, and get their signature shape due to proofing and being yeast-leavened

Bonus: Espresso

a cup of coffee on a table: Italian cream mocha © Shelby Cohron Italian cream mocha

How it's actually pronounced: e-ˈspre-(ˌ)sō, eh-spre-soh

If you're like me, you either had (or are having now) the epiphany that there is, in fact, no "x" in the word espresso. Yet, so many people pronounce it this way. 

Espresso can either mean the drink itself or the liquid that comes from the espresso-making process. To make it, steam or hot water is forced through finely ground darkly roasted coffee beans. The resulting liquid can be taken as a shot or in a variety of other drinks and desserts: lattes, macchiatos, red eyes, affogatos, cappuccinos, and much more.  

RELATED VIDEO: Chef Dominique Ansel Builds a Towering Mille-Feuille (and Teaches Us How to Pronounce It) (via Saveur)

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