Italian Food Lost in Translation : 5 Fun Facts That You Didn’t Know

Italian Food Lost in Translation : 5 Fun Facts That You Didn’t Know

Italian Food As An Important Trait of the Culture

Food is one of the most distinctive traits of a culture. Each cuisine has its own local specific ingredients and flavors to mark its identity. However, in the interpretation of foreign dishes to fit in with the local cuisine, mistranslation happens. Today I would like to give you a quick insight into Italian food lost in translation.


Gelato is the Italian word for ice-cream. Therefore, being Italian myself, I was very confused when coming to Canada as I found out that the two are actually different. Apparently gelato indicates what I knew as such (soft, smooth and creamy) whereas ice-cream has a heavier and richer texture to it like Tim Horton’s ice cream.


The same goes for ham and prosciutto (the Italian word for ham). Ham refers to the cooked ham known in Italy as prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto, on the other hand, refers to the dry-cured uncooked ham, called prosciutto crudo. Doing some research you will be able to find some more detailed and scientific descriptions of the differences. However, I learned at the expenses of my taste buds that the English-named product is, more often than not, the fatter and less refined version of its Italian food-named twin.

Peperoni Is No Meat In Italy

Totally misleading food-related words are also pepperoni (spelled peperoni). In Italy it has nothing to do with meat. It actually means bell peppers. In the same vein is latte, which translates into Italian simply as “milk” and doesn’t have any coffee in it. So if you go to Italy, ask for a caffè macchiato and not for a latte, unless what you really want is just a glass of plain milk.


For the series “mispronounced Italian food”, the right way to say bruschetta is “brusketta”. While the list of Italian food that doesn’t exist in Italy includes, to name only a few, fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs or chicken, Italian dressing, pineapple pizza, pepperoni pizza, or any pizza overloaded with random ingredients.

Parmesan Cheese

A common myth to debunk: just because parmigiano (Parmesan cheese) is really good doesn’t mean it has to go on everything. For example, Italian people don’t add extra Parmesan cheese to their pizza. They don’t use it on fish-based pasta dishes either. But to be honest, I put it on pasta with tuna, but rigorously under the horrified eyes of my family.

Italian Food Is Adaptable

The article may sound critical, however, the Americanised version of Italian cuisine isn’t bad (although most of the Italians will tell you the opposite). It’s just different in order to suit the country’s flavours and culture. Just one tip: please, use sea salt when cooking your pasta. 😉

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