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Italian Food Dictionary

By no means is this list complete, if you find some that are missing and you feel are necessary, please email them to us.

A
Aborio Rice - Italian rice used in a lot of risotto dishes, the grain is a bit more stout and plumper than regular white rice
Agnello -
Lamb
Amaro/Amaretto -
Almond and/or herb liquer served as a cordial, in espresso, and/or in desserts.
Anisette/Anice
- Clear Italian cordial liquer made from the anis seed, tastes like black licorice, very similary to sambuca, commonly used in desserts or with coffee
Anguilla - Eel
Anguria/Rossa Melone - Watermelon
Antipasto/Antipaste/Antipasti - Appetizers
Apertivo - apertif, liquer
Arancine - rice balls, orange in color, often with a center of veal, prosciutto, cheese, peas and/or vegetables like broccoli
Arborio -
creamy white rice, often found in the Piedmont region of Italy
Arrosto -
beef roast
Asparagus/Asparago - Green Vegetable 

B
Babbaluci -
Snails
Baccala/Baccalaru -
salted cod fish
Beccafico - Stuffed Sardines
Bierra
- Beer
Biscotti -
Hard Italian cookies used for dipping in coffee/espresso
Bistecca -
Steak
Bocconcini - mozzarella cheese formed in small round balls
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) - Bitter broccoli that looks very similar to spinach after its cooked 
Bruscetta -
Italian version of salsa, best served on bread
Buccellato - Cake with a filling of figs and nuts

C
Capers
- capers come from the bush that grows in the medditerean, there are over 150 known species of capers, some are smaller than peas, almost like pepper corns, and there are otehrs which are larger like beans. They are usually packed in brine (salted water), so be sure to wash them off well with cold water).
Cacocciulo/Carciofi
- Artichoke
Caffe -
See Espresso
Calamari
- Squid, best fried in my opinion
Calzone -
Pizza dough baked like a loaf of bread with a filling of ricotta, chese, and marinara sauce
Cappuccino - Espresso coffee served with steamed milk, named after the Cappuccin Monks, who invented the recipe 

Cannoli/Cannola - An authentic Sicilian pastry, tubular with sweet cream filling (cannola = singular, cannoli = multiple, you do not pronnounce a bunch of them "Cannolies")
Capra -
Meat from the goat
Capretto -
Young goat known as a kid
Caponato -
"Salsa" made from eggplant, served cold and/or at room temperature
Cassatta -
soft cake with cream filling
Cena -
Lunch or a large supper
Chianti
- Dry Red wine from the Toscana region (Tuscany)
Condimenti - condiments and/or toppings
Cus Cus - Italian for the Greek couscous, Cuscusu is the Sicilian version
Cozze/Cozzi
- Mussels (shellfish)
Crimini - Mushrooms that resemble dark button mushrooms but are actually the Portobello mushroom before it has grown and matured 
Croquet -
fried potato dumplings

E
Espresso -
Strong black coffe made with pressurized steam

F
Fava -
Broad bean grown in Sicily
Filetto -
Fillet
Focaccia -
Flat bread seasoned with olive oil, pine nuts, basil, etc. Similar to pizza without the sauce or cheese, said to been have invented by the Greeks
Fragolina -
Strawberry

Frangelico - Sweet hazelnut liquor
Frascati -
Dry White wine from the region of Rome
Fromaggio
- Cheese of any kind
Funghi - Mushrooms

G
Gamberi -
Shrimp
Gelato -
Italian Ice Cream
Gorgonzola - Italian blue cheese, named for the city in which it comes from
Grappa - Very strong "digestive" spirit made from the grape seeds, stems and skins - proceed with caution!
Granita - Flavored "slushy" ice served on hot days for breakfas, similiar to a 7-11 Slurpee or Smoothee

I
Insalata - Salad, not just a garden salad of lettuce but many different kinds
Italiana
- Cooked Italian Style (Siciliana if its Sicilian-Style)

L
Latte -
Milk
Limoncello -
Cordial Spirit yellow in color and tastes like lemons

M
Macaroni
- See Pasta
Margherita - Basic pizza made with tomatoes, basil and just a little mozzarella, named for Queen Margherita's favorite, not the tequila drink 
Marsala -
Sweet dark white wine from the Marsala region of Sicily, and excellent when cooked with chicken, similiar to cooking sherry but a nicer flavor
Martini -
Italian brand of Vermouth, from which the ever popular Martini Cocktail has derived 
Melanzanne -
Eggplant

Mellone - Melon, either watermelon or catelope
Milza -
sauteed veal spleen, often served on sandwiches (check out Joe's of Avenue U, 287, Brooklyn NY  718-449-9285)
Mozzarella -
Mild Italian cheese, white, melts well, stringy, most commonly used on pizzas and in lasagna

N
Naturale - Natural, most often referring to spring water, without the carbonation 
Nocciola -
Hazelnut, usually a flavor of ice cream or chocolate candy (see also, Frangelico)
Noce - Walnut

O
Olio de Oliva -
Olive Oil
Olivi -
Olives
Oregano - probably the only herb that has more flavor dry than when its fresh
Ostriche - Oysters

P
Pane -
Bread
Pasta -
Egg, Semolina flour, and water make up this base of many or most Italian dishes 
Pasticceria - Pastry shop, also often found in a bakery and/or bread shop
Pecorino -
A grating cheese
Pesce
- Fish
Pesce Spada - Swordfish
Pesto - From the region of Liguria in Italy, it is paste or sauce made from basil, pine nuts and olive oil, usually served over crackers or breads, but can be over pasta as well
Piccante -
Spicy
Pignoli -
nuts from the pine tree pine cones (mostly from Italy & Turkey) shaped like large pieces of rice, used in pesto, in cookies, sometimes on pizza.  They are so expensive because they have to be extraced (mostly by hand) from a kernal within the pine cone.
Piccolo Pizza -
small "personal pan" pizza
Pizza -
Round bread, not always the usual large, round tomato pie with heaps of mozzarella
Polenta
- Corn meal
Pollo - Chicken
Pomodora
- Tomatoes
Porchetta - Italian Bacon, usually  round, uncooked, can be sliced thin or thick.
Porcini - exotic small dark Italian mushrooms (extremely hard to find fresh)
Portobello - Large mushroom excellent for grilling
Prosciutto
- Italian ham, can be served in salads or with cooking.  Its best in the summer wrapped around cantelope. 
Provolone - Sharp Italian cheese, white, aged
Pulpo - Octopus

R
Ravioli -
Two thin, flat, squares of pasta with a filling inb etween with everything from ricotta chese, to meat to lobster, etc. etc.
Ricotta -
Italian cheese with a consistancy similar to cottage cheese, most commonly used in manicotti, ravioli and lasagna
Risotto
- Italian rice, usually smaller.

S
Sage - (Salvia Officinalis) is not an ingredient that you see often in the US when it comes to cooking. It is native of the Mediterranean lands but can be easily grown at home.   Sage is an astringent, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, uterine stimulant, and a carminative. It is said to relax peripheral blood vessels, and had a number of other uses. It is excellent when cooking meats, in olive oil, etc.
Salami/Salumi - 
Soprosata, Italian Dry Salami (Napoli); Capicola/Coppcola
Salt -
Salt is a mineral, can be mined from sea or mine,  rock salt, sea salt.  
Sambuca
- A clear Italian cordial that tastes like black licorice, very similary to anisette, commonly used in desserts or with coffe
Sarde - Sardines
Scallopine
- Very thin slices of chicken or fish
Scungilli
- Snail
Seppia (Siccia in Sicilian) cuttlefish
Siciliana -
Cooked Sicilian Style (Italiana is the Italian version of a particular dish)
Soprosata - Salami-type cured meat
Spumoni - 3 flavors of ice cream similar to "Neapolitan" (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), and introduced into the US in the late 19th century
Strega
- Liquor

T
Taralle - Italian version of hard pretzels made with fennel seeds instead of salt
Tartufo -
Italian ice cream in chocolate shell
Tilapia -
St. Peter's Fish is its common name, and it is a white fish, mild in taste, but good, undertated.
Tonno -
Tuna
Torrone - Usually an ice cream made with honey and nuts
Tortellini
- Literally means "bellybutton of Venus" because of the shape of this pasta which is rolled and filled.
Truffles - very expensive, rare, mushrooms found in the Tuscany region, also found in truffle oil, a single truffle can be over a hundred US Dollars
Trattoria - "Lunchonette", an informal place to have lunch, but in the United States they may be a bit more fancy and expensive.
Tuaca - Italian cordial liquer with hints of vanilla and oranges
Tunisini
- Type of Eggplant with light purple skin and pure white insides

V
Vergine - Means "Virgin" as in pure olive oil
Vino -
Wine (Vino Bianco = white wine; vino rossa = blush or rose wine)
Vitello -
Veal from the baby cow
Vongole -
Clams (shellfish)

Z
Zeppole - Small round pieces of fried pizza dough, about the size of a golf ball
Zucchero -
Sugar
Zuppa
- Soup
Zuppa Inglese - A dessert of rum over ice cream


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