Special Sub-Topic: Italian Cuisine - A to Z
|A is for Antipasto, which may be anything from a dish of cured meats and/or cheeses to marinated vegetables. Which of the following is NOT a traditional Italian antipasto?|
Skewered cubes of cheddar, boiled ham, and pepperoni sausage.. Although the Italians use many cheeses in their cooking and as antipasti, including a few non-Italian cheeses which come from surrounding countries like France or Switzerland, one would never expect to see Cheddar cheese at an Italian table. Also, pepperoni is actually not a traditional Italian sausage; it is an American creation. The word "peperoni" in Italian means "peppers". Plain, boiled ham is also rarely seen in Italy.
|Biscotti are the Italian equivalent of cookies. What does the name "biscotti" mean in Italian (it has to do with the way they are baked)?|
"Twice-cooked" or "twice baked". Most biscotti are first shaped into long, fairly thin loaves and baked. After they have cooled, they are sliced diagonally and then toasted on either side. Thus, they are "baked twice" ("bis" - again + "cotti" - cooked or baked).
|"Delizie" is a name given (appropriately) to a number of Italian desserts. What does it mean in English?|
Delight. There seems to be no general rule for making Delizie, only that the results be delightful.
|"E" is for Espresso, the traditional Italian coffee which is prepared many different ways. Which of the following refers to espresso "marked" or "spotted" with splashes of milk or cream?|
Espresso Macchiato. "Macchiato", meaning marked or spotted, describes the appearance of the espresso when splashes of milk have been randomly dropped into the cup. Cappuccino, of course, refers to the foamy, creamy type of espresso; "Corretto" refers to espresso which has been "corrected" by having a few drops of a liqueur added to give flavor. Latte is a very milky, sweetened coffee given, generally, to children or people who, for health reasons, should not be given strong coffee (in America, lattes are more widely consumed than in Italy).
|Which of the following is a type of Mozzarella cheese?|
Fior di Latte. Fior di Latte (meaning "flower of milk") is a type of fresh Mozzarella made from cow's milk (there is alo a variety of Mozzarella made from the milk of the water buffalo called, appropriately, Mozzarella di Bufalo). It is very perishable and should be used the day it is made. Its flavor is so sweet and creamy that there is a type of ice cream (gelato) with the same flavor (and name), only sweetened with sugar. (Fontina is another type of cheese, Fior di Sicilia is a flavoring agent, and Fettuccine is a pasta).
|Which of the following is the Italian name for ice cream?|
Gelato. Gelato is lighter in texture than American ice cream. The best gelati have no additives or preservatives, and are not artificially flavored. (Gelatina means "gelatin", Grissini are breadsticks, and Granita is a dessert ice made with fruit juices or sweetened espresso frozen to the point of slushiness).
|Which of the following is a main ingredient in Strufoli?|
Honey. Strufoli are fried puffs of dough coated with warm honey and sprinkled with non-pariels. They are traditionally made around the Christmas holidays (or Easter in some regions) and shaped into a pyramid or a wreath.
|I is for Insalata, the Italian word for "salad". One of my favorites is made from cubes of toasted bread (pane), ripe tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. It is also made with very firm textured bread that has been soaked, squeezed dry, and then crumbled and added to the other ingredients. What is this called? |
Panzanella. Although all of these are salads, Panzanella (which gets its name from "pane" - bread) is the one. You need good quality country-type bread to make it right; regular sandwich bread turns to mush.
|This hearty bean soup from Trieste is made from Borlotti beans, pork, bacon, onions, potatoes, and sauerkraut (yes, sauerkraut!).|
La Jota. This is obviously an extremely hearty dish; the use of sauerkraut recalls the Austro-Germanic influence in the region's cuisine. (Jambalaya is a Creole rice dish, Jambon is the French word for ham, and Jagasee is a Portugese dish).
|This (not very appetizing) name for doughnuts is actually of German origin.|
Krapfen. Krapfen are found in areas of Italy close to the German border (such as Trieste)and are frequently seen around "Carnevale" time ("Mardi Gras"). They are often filled with jam.
|This is a creamy dessert cheese used for making the popular dessert Tiramisu.|
Mascarpone. High in butterfat and very perishable, Mascarpone tastes like extremely thick, rich whipped cream. (Mortadella is a pork product from Bologna, Montasio is another type of cheese, and Macchiata is a type of espresso).
|Hazelnuts are used widely in Italian cuisine, particularly in desserts and biscotti. What is their Italian name?|
Nocciole. There is a delicious type of Gelato called "Nocciole" which tastes like a higher class of peanut butter. (Nodi means "knots" and is a type of biscotti in which the dough is twisted into a knot; these are frequently made for weddings. Noci is the general word for "nuts"; Nonno means "grandfather").
|O is for olives, a great mainstay of Italian cuisine. Which of the following is NOT a type of olive?|
Trebbiano. Trebbiano is a type of grape used to make Balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) and the Easter dessert wine Vin Santo. The rest are olive varieties.
|The biscotti called by this name are made especially to be eaten during Lent.|
Quaresimali. Quaresimali (the word "Quaresima" means Lent) traditionally use little or no butter or lard and, thus, are an acceptable sweet to have during the Lenten fast. Quadrucci are little squares of pasta; Quindici means "fifteen" in Italian. Quintole is an Italian city.
|This is a traditional Italian rice dish, but it does not usually contain peas.|
Risotto. Traditionally made with Arborio rice, a starchy, short-grain rice. The rice is sautéed in butter and/or olive oil with shallots or onions. Gradually, hot broth and, perhaps, a bit of wine are added until the rice is of a flowing, but not soupy consistency. Saffron is also added and the rice is tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese. Risotto may contain vegetables, seafood (in which case the cheese is omitted), or meat. (Risone is a rice-shaped pastina, Risi e Bisi is a dish made with rice and peas, and Ribollita is a Tuscan vegetable dish).
|Sausage, or Salsicce, may be a hard, cured product like Salami or a fresh pork sausage made to be grilled or boiled. Which of the following is NOT a type of sausage?|
Carpaccio. Carpaccio is a dish of thinly sliced and pounded raw marinated beef. Soppressata is a type of salami pressed under a weight while curing. Zampogne is a creamy-textured pork sausage, stuffed in a boned pig's trotter, that is best served poached or simmered. Luganega is a sweet pork sausage.
|Sicilian blood oranges are known by this name in their native land.|
Tarocchi. Tarocchi are rarely found in American grocery stores, and are usually quite pricey when they are. However, in Sicily they are plentiful, even when food is generally scarce. (Taralli are hard biscuits, Tacchino is turkey, and Tagliatelle is a fettucine-like pasta).
|Raisins are a traditional ingredient in sweets such as the Milanese Panettone as well as savory dishes, such as the Venetian Saor, a cold fish dish. What is their Italian name?|
Uvetta. Uve means "grapes". Uvetta is a diminutive meaning "raisins". Umbria is a region of Italy; Ugolini is the plural of Ugolino, a family name.
|V is for Verdure, or vegetables, one of the great mainstays of Italian cuisine. Which of the following is NOT a vegetable?|
Lamponi. Lamponi are raspberries, a fruit. Cipolle are onions, sedano is celery, and lattuga is lettuce.
|This word, of German derivation, means a small sausage, rather like a hot dog.|
Wurstel. According to Marcella Hazan (in "The Classic Italian Cookbook"), cold sliced wurstel (or any cold meats) are typically tossed with cold rice, chopped vegetables, and dressing and served as a summer salad. (The other three are German words for sausages except wurzel, which means "root".)
|The letter Y does not exist in the Italian language, so I'll need to be creative here. What does "Pangiallo" (traditionally served at Carnevale, or Mardi Gras) mean?|
Yellow Bread. Pangiallo (Pan - bread + giallo - yellow) is a Roman sweet bread, traditionally served at Christmas time. It gets its yellow color from the eggs in the dough and may contain raisins and/or chopped candied fruits.
|We began, appropriately, with antipasti; now we end, equally appropriately, with dessert. Which of the following is NOT a dessert?|
Zoccolo. Zuppa Inglese is a sponge cake moistened with a liqueur-flavored syrup, layered with custard and candied fruits, and covered with whipped cream. Zabaglione, or Zabaione, is a frothy custard made by cooking the yolks of eggs in a double-boiler with Marsala and, perhaps, rum. A Zuccoto is a dome-shaped dessert made with strips of sponge cake, cream, fruits, chocolate, and nuts (yes, it's delicious!). Zoccolo is a large cube (or "clog") of fried bread, typically placed in the center of a savory dish or stew where it sops up the sauce or juices from the dish.
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