Learn Italian words: la pasta!

Know your pasta: easier said than done! Italians are so obsessed with their pasta that they actually created a chart to classify every type according to its structure, it’s lenght or its texture: it’s basically a pasta periodic table! That said, it is not surprising that many Italian language students have an hard time to recognize and name even the most common varieties of pasta, due to the fact that Italian words for pasta, although often containing open references to its appearence, usually originate from a dialect word. Moreover, some kinds of pasta have a different name for almost every region, to the point that you might be misunderstood if you ask for stortoni in Rome or maccheroni in Milan.

You might think that internet can help, but this is not always the case. Just take a look at this infographic, available in any major stock photo website.

bad infographic about Italian pasta Mistakes and misspellings in this artwork are so numerous and so hilarious that one could actually think they were made on purpose. Let’s analyze them in details and try to learn some Italian from them:

Nidi di rondie: besides the fact that nidi di rondine are actually a particular way to cook tagliatelle, the author of this infographic just forgot an n.
Lasagnia: In Italian language, the palatal sound (/ɲ/) is never followed by a diacritic i. Thank you, and have some lasagna. 🙂
Funghetto:
pasta names are always plural. And that should be pretty obvious, since in every box you can find many pieces of the same variety of pasta. Just to try to search on Google “funghetto pasta” and “funghetti pasta“: can you spot the difference?
Gobetti rigatti:
the author of this image had so many problems with double consonants! Which is normal and understandable, considering that double consonants in Italian language have an importance which has no equivalent in any other European language. That said, the correct form is gobbetti (from gobba, hunchback) rigati (striped).
Konkilioni:
in the Italian orthography, the stop velar sound /k/ is represented by the letter c, possibly paired with an h when followed by a palatal vowel (e or i). Moreover, this word poses another difficulty for foreign students, since the lateral sound /ʎ/ (similar to the one you find in Spanish caballo) is very specific to Italian language and  is always written using the diacritic sequence gli (as in aglio, figlio, moglie, gli). Therefore, the correct form is conchiglioni.
Kanellone:
again, /k/ sound, double consonants and plural instead of singular. Correct form is cannelloni.
Cornetti rigatti: cornetti
(from corni, horns) rigati.
Elighe:
almost correct, except for the confusion between voiced and unvoiced stop velars, /k/ and /g/. In this case, the sound is unvoiced: eliche (literally fans).

Now, we really want to set the record straight. That is why we prepared a new infographic with our favourite types of pasta in the hope this will help you through the labyrinth of the pasta periodic chart!

Infographic about Italian pasta

Read the original article on www.kappalanguageschool.com!

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Learn Italian words: il menù in italiano!

I bet that one of the main reasons most of you guys are in love with Italy (and studying Italian language) is your attraction for Italian food, and you are damn right about that! With such an amazing variety of ingredients and dishes, Italian cuisine is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and part of the world cultural heritage!

Despite being worldly renown, though, a traditional Italian meal has a structure that many of our Italian language students (especially the ones coming from the far east) find puzzling. For many of those who approach Italian cuisine and are used to meals based on a single dish, the distinction between primo and secondo might seem useless and confusing, and the fact that an Italian lunch (or dinner) is often divided in 3 or more dishes can give the impression of an unnecessary generous meal.

Now, we do not expect to turn you into a three-stars chef or teach you everything our nonna told us about Italian food, but we really hope this brand new infographic, Il menù in italiano, will help you sorting out some useful information you can use during you next pranzo!

menuTavola disegno 1800px

Learn Italian words (and grammar): la colazione in Italia!

As every grandma uses to say, “breakfast is the most important meal of all”. And that is indeed true, especially if you consider that generally it helps your body recovering from a night of fasting! So what’s the deal with Italian breakfast?

From a country whose diet is renowned worldwide, with an outstanding variety of ingredients and a cookbook stuffed with delicious recipes, you would expect excellence even when it comes to the first meal of the day. Yet, breakfast in Italy is very different from what many expats and Italian language students would expect, as it is usually a very fast and light meal, the mainstay being a cappuccino or an espresso accompanied by some pastries (cornetti) and, occasionally, corn flakes and cereals (fiocchi d’avena e cereali). In a regular Italian breakfast there is no room for cheese, eggs, beans or bacon, and actually most Italians tend to consider the idea of having a “salty breakfast” (or eating anything salted before midday) quite disgusting.

Even in Italy, of course, you will be able to find bars, pubs and hotels which regularly serve English or American breakfast, but if you really want to get the full Italian experience, you should really try to melt in and have a quick and light Italian breakfast in a local bar, peeking at a quotidiano and catching the occasion to have a chat with Italian natives on the latest news

For all of you who want to be prepared when having your first breakfast in Italy, here’s a new infographic… with a quick grammar overview about si passivante included!

 

Learn Italian words and grammar: breakfast in Italy, Infographic

6 tips for discovering Rome without acting like a tourist

You might be in Rome for tourism but, as a general rule, being seen by locals as a tourist is something best avoided.

Now, let’s take a minute to define the word “tourist”: according to the Merriam-Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture”. Although a slight interest for local culture should be implicit in touring, the sheer meaning of the word “tourist” implies a confining sense of transience. And for a person who’s really interested in getting to know Italian Language and Culture, this is something to avoid or, at least, to limit.

Our aim is to help you find your way while discovering the best of Italian Culture, at the same time experiencing Italy as a local: that is why we’ve prepared a short vademecum of things you DON’T want to do when touring, living or studying in Italy, unless you want to be considered one of the many tourists that every day pass through the Bel Paese.

Touring

Let’s get down to basics: Rome (as well as Italy) is a treasure chest so full of hidden gems not even locals are able to discover them all in a lifetime. Of course, the Colosseum, S. Pietro and the Trevi Fountain (which btw is not a bathtub) are sights which are too important to miss, but why not spice up your stay in Rome a little by venturing to the almost forgotten but unimaginably important small churches, or Rome’s fascinating borgate with their outstanding variety of street art masterpieces? There’s a tour for everyone, if you search hard enough.

On the road & in the streets

The streets of Rome, brilliantly sang by artists such as Bob Dylan, are certainly a place of breathtaking beauty: you can find a glimpse of the glorious past of the city on every street corner, and yet the whole city is immersed in a mellow, decadent atmosphere. But once on the road, you have to learn how to watch your step, as traffic can be really wild and it’s not unusual to spot packs of tourists lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for the right moment to cross the street.

Now, I’ll try to put this simply: crossing the streets in Rome requires some skills. We call it “the pigeon technique” (la tattica del piccione): if you have to cross, just do it, provided there’s a reasonable distance between the upcoming cars and your body. Drivers will eventually stop, especially if you are bold enough to fearlessly look into their eyes as you would do with an attacking animal. And there you go: you will be on the other side without even noticing, and actually feel more self-confident than ever. It’s the law of the jungle, folks!

The same cannot be said for bikers (and bike tours): you really have to be reckless to ride a bike in the city center without the supervision of a local. Rome is simply not equipped for cycling, except for certain areas. If you really want to experience Rome on two wheels, make friends with a local and let himor her help you.

Eating & drinking

Yes, I know you came to Italy mainly for the food. Who doesn’t? Even Italians travel all along the country to taste local delicacies. But remember: food in Italy is a serious matter, and Italians tend to get really bitchy about their meals (and the way you might want to experience them). Obvious advice and common sense aside (avoid tourist traps, eat local and with locals), if you really want to prevent astonished looks from the locals you should follow these simple rules:

Cappuccino CAN NOT be the happy ending of your meal. It is something we consume strictly before 12pm, specifically for breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino at a restaurant is like buying a computer from a furniture store. The restaurateur might give you what you want, but you will break his\her heart. Do you really want that?

Pizza in Rome is thin and provides just a limited variety of toppings. Beware of odd variants unless you are in a pizzeria which is famous among locals for its creativity.

– Never pay more than 8€ for your pizza margherita. In Italy good food can be extremely cheap: you can get a decent Italian wine for 10€ and fill yourself up with 15€ in a pizzeria (supplì included). Although you shouldn’t drink wine with pizza: for that we have Peroni.

– Remember that spaghetti bolognese IS NOT A THING IN ITALY. They can literally kick you out of the restaurant, if the owner is in a bad mood.

Dresscode

This is a bit of a sore subject. Italians are widely known for their loose approach to PDOA, their open display of emotions and their genuineness and yet, if you really want to blend in, you should remember that Rome is not Miami nor LA, and that Romans tend to consider people going around the city in Bermudas and flip-flops as quirky but a little disturbing. Plus, as Louis CK used to say, every big city is basically a huge pile of dirt, and Rome is no exception: knowing this, do you still want to go around wearing flip-flops?

Everyone has his or her own style, but looking around you to see what locals do is always a good strategy and a matter of common sense when in a foreign country. This applies especially to Rome, the privileged destination of millions of tourists every year.

Nightlife

Binge drinking, in Italy, can be a thing when it comes to depressed medium-sized suburban towns, but drinking only to get pissed is really something Italians don’t do – although the average age for the first sip of alcohol in Italy is approximately 6. So forget about your night out at a club downing one shot after another: if you do this in Rome, you’ve been caught in a tourist trap. For further information, take a look at this very instructive video. Knowledge is power. 🙂

Italian language

And here we are, in our area of expertise. As Italian language teachers, we wouldn’t dare to criticise the happy ones who try to learn and speak Italian: every effort is indeed appreciated, even if it is just an impromptu. Italian people, on the other hand, tend to be annoyed by very few and specific things, such as the mispronounciation of grazie (which is often spelled “grazy” by anglo-american speakers) or the ridicolous outcomes of expressions such as buongiorno (see picture for lulz). That said, if you really want to fit in, learning some basic expressions (and practice your pronunciation) in Italian language is definitely a good move, although in Italy you will always find someone who will be able to help you using alternative forms of communication, such as Italian hand gestures. 🙂

Originally poste on www.kappalanguageschool.com.

Learn Italian Words: al mercato – la frutta e la verdura

We at Kappa Language School always encourage healthy diet, and this is why we designed this infographic for all you fellas who like to eat green! Here you find all the Italian words for fruits and vegetables and, of course, their weight and quantity.
Have fun, go veg and learn Italian!

Learn Italian words: fruits and vegetables
Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Infografica: parole in cucina!

We all know italian cuisine is a world recognized excellence… but to efficiently cook italian dishes you also need the proper italian words!

Here’s a quick help from our team: an infographic containing most of the italian vocabulary you can find in your kitchen. Enjoy and share!

cucina
Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Italian food haikus

This one is definitely a new one. When the idea was first suggested to me, I laughed my butt off until I realized that my editor was serious. He wanted me to write what? You read the title right folks; these are haikus about Italian food. I apologize to any of my readers who are poetry lovers, because I cannot claim to be even remotely good at poetry. My strength lies in storytelling, not poetry. But with that said, read on at your own risk. Please blame my editor for whatever damage these poems may do to your mind.

Olive taggiasche

olive_taggiascheOlives are a great snack food that I love getting from the fresh market. In Italy they come in these huge barrels and you just fish them out. They are extremely healthy for you. The oil they produce is a staple of Italian cooking, and is present in every Italian kitchen in large quantities. So here is a little poem for our ever-present friend, the olive!

“A great midday snack
Nature’s chewy vitamin
But beware the pit!”

Penne all’arrabbiata

arrabbiataNext up is my personal favorite, penne all’arrabbiata. This dish is akin to the ramen noodles of the Italian culture. Every college student knows how to make it and its relatively simple to make. I personally love this dish, and for those of you who don’t know what it is, its simply tomato sauce but with hot pepper flakes.

“Oh my god, my mouth!
I think I just ate the sun!
Waiter? Please bring more!”

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

The next is Pizza Margherita. Now this is what I assume the Italian version of chicken nuggets are in America. If you have absolutely no idea what to get, or you are an extremely picky eater, this pizza is always a safe choice. Its pretty hard to screw up and its almost always amazing. This was the only thing I ate when I first came to Italy.

“It makes mouths water,
Eatable display of the flag,
a chefs masterpiece!”

Tiramisù

tiramisu-bimbyThe last poem is about one of the most classic Italian desserts there is: Tiramisù. I love this dish, and though I have yet to perfect it in my own kitchen, I am not about to give up. In this great dish, the Italians have combined coffee, pastry, chocolate, and cream into one great mix of perfection. I applaud whoever came up with this dish.

“A sweet aroma,
And a delicate coffee taste.
Creamy perfection!”

Ok, now you don’t really have to comment the poems themselves, do you? Just post your thoughts on these fantastic dishes in the comment section! 😉