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December 17, 2018 | Rome, Italy

Translations you can trust

By | 2018-03-21T18:20:44+00:00 October 11th, 2012|Food & Wine Archive|
Entrecòte ai ferri con patate: Angry coastal meat ironed and made significant. Drawings by Suzanne Dunaway.
I

talian menu options often confuse residents and visitors alike. Each menu contains traditional favorites and more specialized alternatives. Many dishes are indigenous to specific regions. In recent decades Italian restaurants have good-naturedly attempted to translate their specialties into English or worked to furnish tourists with separate English-language menus.

But menus with literal translations can bewilder visitors, who struggle with poorly presented idioms and odd colloquialisms.

Rombo,” a kind of fish, can be translated as “Rumba,” which in fact refers to a deceased Cuban mercenary or a funny dance. “Cinghiale,” a wild boar, can become “Piggie,” a word usually associated with a presidential candidate or a rustic child.

To assist residents and tourists alike, and to make clear the delights of Italian cuisine, here is a sampling of popular and uncommon Italian delicacies accompanied by their accurate and trustworthy translations into English. Inedible verbs have been omitted when possible.

Antipasti (literally, “Antidotes” or “Patsies”)

Crudità di verdura: Crudely dipped virgins.

Crepes di castagne: Cheesy castaways.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro: Misunderstood brooms (toasted).

Sformato di carciofi e salsa alla mentuccia: Deformed artichokes with deceitful mint sauce.

Budini di fegato con salsa dolce: Sweetened “buddies” in nipple pudding.

Carciofi alla Giudia, moscardini e spuma all’aglio e prezzemolo: Jewish chauffeurs with “prized” moles.

Piccola Pizza Margherita con proscuitto crudo: “Margaret Small” pizza with crude parachutes (old recipe).

Polenta croccante, baccalà mantecato, cipolla fritta e radicchio tardivo: Excitable biscuits garnished with delayed onions.

Culatello con trance di pesca: Naked men garnished with peaches.

Primi piatti (literally, “Frontal impressions”)

Stracciatella: Straw eggs in telling broth.

Zuppa di farro: Marble lighthouse soup.

Gnocchi alla Romana: Knuckles in a gypsy sauce.

Tortellini all’Amatriciana: Many little felons (spicy).

Fusilli alla Gorgonzola: Gored cheese sizzles.

Tagliolini ai funghi porcini: Stained mushrooms with designer hoods.

Soprafini del carpaccio di polpo caldo: Anorexic carp made to sweat.

Dadini di Filetto alla crema di tartufo: Cream of clever slackers with moving parts.

Lasagnetti di farro con finferli: Baby lasagna with fried headlights.

Risotto con Speck: Breaded rice with German colonels (seasonal).

Risotto alla Milanese: Restless saffron with fresh smog.

Ravioli farciti di coda di bue e salsa di coda alla vaccinara: Vaccinated tails with a farcical sauce.

Spaghetti cacio e peppe con Pecorino di fossa: Garnished fossils with cashews and sins.

Rigatoni alla Norcina: Black pasta with northern rulers.

Penne alla Genovese: Abruptly-murdered feathers (seasonal).

Omelette a piacere: Homeless eggs made with pleasure.

Secondi piatti (literally, “Second puppies”)

Melanzane alla Parmigiana: Melancholy eggplant with convicts.

Abbacchio alla scottadito: Lamb snores garnished with runts.

Ossobuco con polenta bianca: Treat of overweight ponies.

Abbacchio al forno: Bigger lamb including oven.

Calamari fritti: Frittered calamities.

Sogliole alla mugnaia o alla griglia: Mugged or grilled fish-souls.

Quaglia disossata con salsa di uva: Disenfranchised quail in ultraviolet sauce.

Carré di maialino al forno con mostarda di mela e riso Venere: Fornicating pig with tart craters.

Entrecòte ai ferri con patate: Angry coastal meat ironed and made significant.

Straccetti con rughetta: Leanly impregnated rugs.

Scaloppina di vitella al tartufo nero: Escalope of Fascist slogans.

Saltimbocca alla romana: Rude veal with jumpy subplots.

Branzino cotto sul fieno: Brazen gigolos finely pestered.

Baccalà Islandese: Baked island (your choice).

Mazzancolle alla marinara: Merchant marine hatchets.

Merluzzetti a vapore: Luxuriously bagged fish vapors.

Peccati di anguilla (tris di anguilla a brodetto, con verza ed aceto bianco, con pinoli e radicchio al balsamico): Rash white peccadilloes (with long rakes).

Polpettine di vitello con purée: Milk-fed pillars with a hint of vanilla.

Pollo alla Diavola: Attempted chicken with Devils.

Dolci (literally, “Digressions”)

Millefoglie di ananas con frutta di bosco: Thousand-boned fruit with bosses.

Tiramisú: Tired cake with funny soundtrack.

Torta della Nonna: Grandmother’s mystery pie.

Composta di sorbetti: Compote of bad bets.

Crostata di ricotta: Wealthy little crusts.

Mont Blanc: Mounted chestnuts (seasonal).

Tortino di pere e castagne: Father’s punished castañets.

“Nostro” strudel di mele: “Our” wives’ tales, now yours.

About the Author:

Corinna Amendola
Corinna Amendola occasionally writes the "lost in Translation" column. Originally from Delaware, she lives with her husband in Geneva.

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