Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Bridging the language barrier

03 September 2007

One of the first questions I am asked when I announce that I am going to Italy for my externship is if I spoke Italian. My answer was always, “A little - but I was told that the kitchen crew spoke some English.” I would have to say that my command of the Italian language is less than stellar but with the help of some language study “tapes”, I have been able to greatly improve my understanding, if not my conversation. Most times I can pick up on the gist of what is being said.

My friend, Paolo said that Tuscany is the birthplace of the Italian language and that he feels it is the most beautiful sounding of all areas – he also said that Tuscans speak a little differently from the rest of Italy. For example, “Coke” might sound like “Hoke”. Well that’s just perfect…I’m picking up Italian from a crew that doesn’t quite speak the way the rest of the country does.

Actually most of the Italian I am learning in the kitchen is food related…then there is the “kitchen” talk. It’s “Madonna” this and “Madonna” that…no, they aren’t referring to Guy Ritchie’s wife. If you need to know the context, I would have to say it was more along the lines of “Mother of God!”

As I grow more comfortable in the kitchen, I have joined in with the jokes (when I understand them) and pranks of the kitchen. Last night I started to teach Francesco some choice English phrases…well American phrases. Before you start to think the worse, get your mind out of the gutter. I didn’t teach him anything bad. Of course, he did run these phrases by Patrick just to be sure.

Phrase 1:

Fo’ shizzle, my nizzle.

I find this one hilarious….so did Patrick. When Francesco asked his what it meant, his first reaction was to laugh for having heard it actually come out of Francesco’s mouth.

Phrase 2:

Same shit, different day.

Phrase 3:

Damn skippy!

I broke each one down and explained what each one meant…it’s only fair as they may be things he might not normally say or god forbid use them out of context.

Another colourful phrase heard in the kitchen, which I am unsure of the origin is “Non capito cazzo.” Translated it means “Don’t understand dick”. Quite similar to the American phrase “Don’t know dick.”

I also help the guys with their English. I have corrected the usage of certain words and phrases. Danielle has told me that he appreciates that I do this because he plans to do a stage at a restaurant in SF. Just last night, Danielle told Francesco to “Suck my balls.” I told him what he said was right and the meaning is understood however, “Suck my dick/cock” was a better phrase…which then led me to explain the synopsis of “GI Jane”. In particular the scene when she’s getting the tar beat out of her and she utters the famous phrase. By the way, the Italian release of “GI Jane” is titled “Soldato Jane”

Whoops my comments got mixed up. The menu you posted is very Toscana, since it has a lot of meat, stews and game. I do miss some of that stuff in the winter time.
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