All posts by Kathryn Occhipinti

About Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the "Conversational Italian for Travelers" series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language. The associated website www.learntravelitalian.com, provides free interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive. Everything one needs to know to travel to Italy is in this series of books!

Lago Como, Italy image superimposed on a movie strip

How to Talk About: Movies and TV in Italian

How to Talk About: Movies and TV in Italian

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog    How to talk about movies and TV in Italian: Important Italian phrases and vocabulary you need to know when talking about the shows you watch with Italian friends and colleagues!

This blog series, “How to Talk About… in Italian” will focus on the topics that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian family, friends and colleagues. We will focus on the important Italian phrases and Italian vocabulary we all need to know to become more fluent when we speak about everyday events in Italian!

The topic for this month —movies and TV — comes up frequently during daily conversation, both when making small talk with acquaintances and also when planning activities with family, friends, and co-workers. In the “How to Talk About Movies and TV in Italian” blog for this month, we will focus on common Italian phrases needed to describe the type of show you have watched, if liked it, and why .  As usual, the focus will be on common Italian expressions that can be used to describe your own interests.

Enjoy the third topic in this “How to Talk About…” series, “How to Talk About Movies and TV in Italian.” —Kathryn Occhipinti

Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.
Banner image credit: Como lake landscapes on film strip


How to Talk About: TV and the Movies in Italian

Using piacere to say we like a TV show or movie…

In Italian, a few simple sentences will suffice to say if we liked what we saw — or not.  You may recall that Italians use the irregular verb piacere to convey the idea that they like something. For a refresher on how this verb works, please refer to the beginning Italian blogs in my Conversational Italian! blog, “Piacere — How Italians Say, ‘I like it!”  and “Piacere: How Italians Say, ‘I liked it!’

The most important thing to remember is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked. 

So, when speaking in the present tense,  if one thing is liked, simply use the third person singular conjugation piace.

If many things are liked in the present, use the plural third person, which is piacciono.

For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms “è piacuto” and “è piaciuta” for the one-time event when we liked something.

If many things are liked, the third person plural forms “sono piaciuti” for the masculine plural and “sono piaciute” for the feminine plural are used.

Then put the indirect object pronoun “mi” before the verb to make the simple sentence:” To me, this is pleasing!” Or, as we would say in English, “I like/liked this!”  

To ask a friend if they like or liked something, put “ti before the verb, for “Is/was this pleasing to you?” Or, as we would say in English, “Do/Did you like this?”

If, for some reason, we do NOT like what we have watched, just start your sentence with the word “non.”

 

What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we like:

Mi piace questo film. I like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto questo film. I liked this movie.
Mi piace molto questo film. I really like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really liked this movie.
Ti piace questo film? Do you like this movie?
Ti è piaciuto questo film? Did you like this movie?

 

What we might say about our favorite TV show or movie that we did NOT like: 

Non mi piace questo film. I don’t like this movie.
Non mi è piaciuto questo film. I didn’t like this movie.
Mi piace molto questo film. I really don’t like this movie.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film. I really didn’t like this movie.
Ti piace questo film? Don’t you like this movie?
Ti è piaciuto questo film? Didn’t you like this movie?

 


Using common expressions to say we like a TV show or movie…

Of course, there are many common expressions in Italian that go beyond the simple: ” I like it” or “I didn’t like it.” Just like in English, we might say, “It was cool,” or “It was out of this world,” It seems like new expressions are invented almost every day for how we feel about things! So, it should come as no surprise that Italians also have invented colloquial expressions that express feelings that go deeper than simply liking.  Here are a few you might want to try to surprise your Italian friends.

If you want to ask your friend if it is worth your time to watch a certain movie, you can use the phrases, ” Vale la pena?” for “Is it worth it?”  “Voleva la pena il film?” means, “Was the film worth it?”

In the table below are some answers to this question that you might hear from a native Italian if they liked the film you are talking about:

Mi piace un sacco! I like it a lot! (lit. a sack full)
Mi è piaciuto un sacco! I liked it a lot!
È  stato bello! It was great!
È / È stato meraviglioso! It is / was wonderful!
È / È stato stupendo! It is / was amazing / cool!
È / È stato  fantastico! It is / was fantastic / cool!
È / È stato fico / figo! It is / was cool!
È /  È stato fichissimo / fighissimo! It is / was the coolest!
È / È stato da paura! It is / was cool!
È / È stato  il meglio! It is / was the best!
È il migliore film che io abbia mai visto. It is the best film that I have ever seen.

 


How do I say, “TV show” and “movies” in Italian?

The programs we watch on a television set ( il televisore) or on a screen (lo schermo) are referred to most commonly in both English and Italian as “TV.”  The pronunciation, of course, is different in each language.  In Italian, “TV” is pronounced as an Italian would pronounce the letters “t” and “v”, which sounds like “tee-vooh.” Notice from the table below that there is an Italian word for TV,la televisione,” and therefore the abbreviation is feminine as well.

TV La TV / La televisione
Cable TV La TV via cavo
Satellite TV La TV sattelitare
RAI-TV Italian state television
(Radio-Televisione Italiana)
Television set Il televisore
TV or computer screen Lo schermo
TV show Un programma 
Un programma televisivo
TV series Una serie TV
Un telefilm
Episode Una puntata
Situation Comedy Una serie TV sitcom
Una commedia
Comedy show Un programma comico

To talk about a movie in Italian, we could refer to “la pellicola,” but this word is no longer in common use. Instead, Italians most often refer to a movie in general with the word “film.”  Movies in general are either “i film,” with the borrowed English word preceded by the plural masculine definite article in Italian, or “il cinema,” a collective masculine noun. 

The usual verbs for “to watch,”guardare,” and “to see,”“vedere,” describe the act of watching a screen to see a TV show or movie.

Movie theater  Il cinema
Film studio Lo studio cinematografico
Movie Il film (La pellicola)
Movies I film / Il cinema
to capture an image for a film filmare / riprendere / girare
to be recorded essere filmato
to watch a movie guardare un film
to watch a movie vedere un film


Using common expressions to say what we prefer…

The verb preferire means “to prefer,” which is a regular -isc conjugated -ire verb.“I prefer, is “Io preferisco…” To ask a question of someone else, say, “Tu preferisci…?”

If you want to say you prefer one movie genre over another, just use the adjective preferito. This also works for your favorite movie, TV show, color, etc. Just make sure to change the ending of preferito (a,i,e) to reflect what it is you are describing, whether masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

Here are examples from the dialogue below:

È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
It’s the type of film that I prefer.

Non per me.  Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
Not for me. My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.

 

If you might want to say, “I liked (film) better than…” use the sentence construction:

“Mi piace… (film)  più di + definite article… (film).  

Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.

 

Another way to make a comparison between films: “This film is much better than…”

“Questo film è molto meglio di + definite article…”

Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.

 

Finally, to mention who has written or directed a movie, use the conjunction “di” to mean “by.”

 


Some common movie genres

Action Film d’azione
Adventure story Storia d’avventura
Costume drama (historical TV show with costumes) Sceneggiato in costume
Costume drama (historical film with costumes) Film in costume
Comedy Film comico / commedia
Comedy drama Commedia drammatica
Dark comedy Commedia nera
High comedy Commedia sofisticata / da intenditori
Low comedy (bawdy) Commedia popolare
Slapstick comedy Farsa / Pagliacciata*
Musical comedy Commedia musicale
Romantic comedy Commedia romantica
Documentary Un documentario
Drama Storia drammatica
Drama movie Film drammatico / Dramma
Detective movie Un poliziesco / Un giallo**
Film noir (thriller genre) Film noir
Foreign Film Film straniero
Horror  Film horror / Film dell’orrore
Mystery Un giallo**
Science Fiction / Sci-fi Film di fantascienza
Psychological thriller Thriller psicologico
Thriller (suspense film) Thriller / Giallo
Western Film Western

*Reference to the opera “Pagliacci,” whose main character is a clown that performs slapstick humor with puppets.

**Mystery books and films are referred to by the color “giallo,” which is derived from the yellow cover all mystery books were given in the past.

 


Below is a simple dialogue between two friends, Maria and Anna, talking about their favorite movie and TV show.  There are, of course, many variations.  Think about your favorite movie and create your own!

 

Maria:  Ieri sera, ho guardato il film, La Vita è Bella, di Roberto Benigni.
Last night, I watched the movie, “Life is Beautiful,” by Roberto Benigni.
Anna: Ne è valsa la pena?
Was it worth it?
Maria: Si, vale la pena.
Mi è piaciuto molto questo film!
Yes, it is worth it.
I really liked this film!
Anna: È una storia drammatica?
Is it a drama?
Maria: Si, è una storia drammatica, ma la prima parte è anche un po’ comica.
Yes, it is a drama, but the first part is also a bit funny.
Anna: Ah, una commedia drammatica.
I see, a comedy drama.
Maria: È il tipo di film che io preferisco.
It’s the type of film that I prefer.
Anna: Non per me.
Il mio film preferito è un buon giallo.
Not for me.
My favorite movie is a good mystery movie.
Commissario Montalbano è figo.
Detective Montalbano is cool.
Maria: Boh. Ho visto molte puntate del Commissario Montalbano sul TV.
Well. I have seen many episodes of Detective Montalbano on TV.
Ma mi piace La Vita è Bella più del Commissario Montalbano.
  I like La Vita è Bella more than Detective Montalbano.
   
  Questo film è molto meglio del Commissario Montalbano, sono sicuro!
This film is much better than Detective Montalbano, I am sure.
Anna: Allora, devo guardare La Vita è Bella un giorno.
Well, then, I will have to watch La Vita è Bella one day.

 

Remember how to talk about movies and TV in Italian and I guarantee
you will use these  Italian phrases every day!

And remember to study our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book if you want a handy way to remember all the important Italian phrases you will need to know!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

How to Talk about Movies and TV in Italian

bowl with a tartufo ball cut in half so the vanilla/chocolate ice cream sides are showing with a cherry in the center.

Tartufo — Gelato but Even Better!

Tartufo — Gelato but Even Better!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Tartufo is two flavors of gelato ice cream in a ball,  made even better with a cherry in the center and a chocolate shell!

 

Make tarfufo ice cream treats and surprise your family tonight! 

“Tartufo — Gelato  but Even Better” is a reprint from a blog originally posted on July 31, 2016 entitled, “Tartufo: Summertime Gelato Treat.”  I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time! I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

******************************************************************

Tartufo: A gelato treat made just for summertime! 

The word Italian word “tartufo” refers to the round, brown-and-white truffles found in the densely forested Apennine Mountains that run down the spine of Italy. These slightly irregularly shaped round balls are found nestled between the roots of old beech, birch, and pine trees by specially trained dogs. A similarly shaped sweet French candy made from chocolate and cream, known as “ganache,” is also referred to as a truffle.

We present here a method for a round, chocolate-coated ice cream treat made from vanilla and chocolate Italian gelato ice cream that is also called “tartufo.” In the version that follows, there is a surprise in the center—a real Italian marinated Amarena cherry.* Try our recipe as is, or make your own version with any of your favorite Italian gelato flavors. Enjoy a cold, refreshing treat this summer with our simple method!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make the dish if you like!

 

View this post on Instagram

Ice cream tartufo treats. Easy Italian dessert that even kids can make! Use two flavors of your favorite good quality ice cream, gelato if you can find it. Scoop out to make balls of desired size. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Unwrap balls, cut in half and add an Italian amarena cherry or a maraschino cherry in the center. Put two different flavors together, rewrap and freeze. For chocolate shell melt 4oz. bittersweet chocolate together with 4 oz. Semisweet chocolate and 4 oz. canola oil. Let cool slightly. Roll ice cream balls in chocolate quickly! Refreeze until shell hardens. Enjoy on a hot summer afternoon or a cool summer evening! #osnap #icecream #icecreamrolls #icecreamdessert #icecreamdesserts #icecreamrolls #icecreamroll #icecreamlovers #icecreamaddict #icecreamheaven #gelato #gelatoonmymind #gelatodessert #gelato🍦 #gelatoartigianale #gelatoartigianaleitaliano #tartufo #tartufobianco #tartufoestivo #tartufoitaliano #tartufogelato #gelatotartufo #gelatomania #gelatoitaliano🇮🇹 #gelatolove #gelatolovers #gelatolover #foodblogger #foodbloggersofinstagram @niaf #italianicecream🍦 #italianicecream

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 


Tartufo: Summertime Gelato Treat!

 

bowl with a tartufo ball cut in half so the vanilla/chocolate ice cream sides are showing with a cherry in the center.
Tartufo: chocolate-covered gelato ice cream with an Amarena cherry in the center, cut in half and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients
(Makes approximately 8 ice cream balls)
(Method takes a few minutes each day for 3 days)

1 pint vanilla ice cream (gelato)
1 pint chocolate ice cream (gelato)
8 Italian Amarena cherries* in syrup

Chocolate coating**
4.0 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4.0 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 tsp canola oil

Procedure

To see step-by-step pictures, visit Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest.

Make the Ice Cream Balls

Let the vanilla and chocolate ice cream soften slightly in the ice cream cartons so it is easy to scoop out. (If it is too soft and watery, it will not make good ice cream balls.)

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 4  balls of vanilla ice cream and place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap above the ball and twist to seal.

Quickly put the balls into a freezer-safe container and back into the freezer. (Plastic tray containers from Chinese take-out food work well because they are just the right size for four balls and have a cover.)

The same way, make 4 ice cream balls from the chocolate ice cream, wrap each ball in plastic wrap, and place the wrapped balls into a second freezer-safe container. Quickly return the container to the freezer.

Freeze overnight. If you want, after the ice cream balls have refrozen, form them into a more rounded shape with the plastic still on and return them to the freezer.

The next day, or when the ice cream balls have frozen through completely and are hard, remove one vanilla and one chocolate ball from the freezer at a time.

Unwrap each ball quickly and save the plastic wrap.

Turn each ball over so that the smooth, round end of each ball is facing up.

Slice each ball in half and make a tiny well in the center of each half that is the size of half a cherry. Quickly press a cherry into the center of one of the ice cream halves, and then top with an ice cream half of the other flavor so that the final balls are half vanilla and half chocolate.

Wrap each ball in the original plastic wrap again and place them back into the freezer container.

Repeat the last 5 steps until all 8 ice cream balls have been used.

Freeze overnight.

If desired, you can form each ball into a more smooth circle after it has frozen again while the ball is in the plastic wrap.

Make the Chocolate Coating

**A note about baking chocolates: I like to use 1/2 bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 semisweet chocolate for children; you can use all dark chocolate if you like. Unsweetened chocolate is not recommended. Make sure to use good quality baking chocolate, whatever your choice.

On the third day, after the combined ice cream balls have completely frozen through, they are ready to coat with chocolate.

Microwave the chocolate and the canola oil in a small glass bowl (best) or glass measuring cup for about 2 minutes on medium heat (50%). Stir, and if all chocolate dissolves, set aside. Or microwave 30 seconds more, check and repeat as needed, until all chocolate is melted.

After the chocolate has melted, let it cool slightly. This is a crucial step, because if the chocolate is too hot, it will melt the chocolate balls; if the chocolate cools too much, it will start to harden. A glass bowl is best for coating the ice cream balls because it can be put into the microwave to melt the chocolate again if it starts to harden before you are finished working with it.

One at a time, take out an ice cream ball from the freezer, remove plastic wrap from the ice cream ball, and immediately place each ball into the chocolate, rolling the ball over once with a  large spoon to coat the top and bottom of the ball.

Immediately set each chocolate-covered ball onto a cookie sheet or small tray covered in aluminum foil and place back into the freezer.

Repeat the last two steps until all ice cream balls have been coated with the chocolate. There will be just enough chocolate to coat 8 balls, so work quickly and reheat the chocolate as necessary, scraping down the sides of the bowl to use all the melted chocolate efficiently.

Freeze all chocolate balls uncovered at least 2 hours.

If you are not serving the tartufi right away, cover them lightly in aluminum foil or place them back into covered containers and store in the freezer.

When ready to serve, cut each tartufo in half with a serrated knife and place on a small plate.

Or place each tartufo ball as is in the center of a large fancy ice cream cup and watch everyone  crack open the chocolate shell, dig in, and enjoy their summer treat!

*To find Amarena cherries if you do not have an Italian specialty shop in your neighborhood, simply search online. Look for the Fabbri brand pictured here.

Jars of Amarena cherries
Amarena cherries

The cherries, in heavy syrup, come in a beautiful white-and-blue decorated jar. Save the jar when you have used all the cherries and use it as a lovely decorative glass piece to give your kitchen a true Italian flair.

—Adapted from a cooking class given for the Italian-American Society of Peoria, by Kathryn Occhipinti

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Tartufo — Gelato but Even Better!

Kathryn Occhipinti holding a plate with a slice of Tiramisu and mint garnish

Tiramisu: “Pick-Me-Up!” Dessert Recipe from Italy

Tiramisu: “Pick-me-up!” Dessert Recipe from Italy

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogTiramisu: “Pick-Me-Up” Dessert Recipe from Italy!

Dessert Recipe from Italy: Make Our Famous Tiramisu

Tiramisu: “Pick-Me-Up” Dessert Recipe from Italy is a partial reprint from a blog originally posted on October 10, 2018, titled: “Dessert Recipe from Italy: Make Our Famous Tiramisù.”

I’ve added a few more tips about how to make the custard filling in this blog.  I’ve also included a sponge cake recipe  just in case Lady Fingers are not available.  (Or,  just in case you just like this layered custard dessert combination with sponge cake!)

– Special thanks to Rudy Litwin of the Italian-American Society of Peoria for the sponge cake recipe.

Also…

I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time!  I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

 

 

And now… the original story!

This famous Italian layered dessert, which literally means “Pick-me-up!” (Tiramisù!)was said to have originated when Italian ladies wanted a snack to get them through a long night of entertaining. Try our version, and we think you will agree that a piece of this Tiramisu dessert will add sparkle to any get-together or special celebration, whether for lunch, dinner, or the wee hours of the evening… Just follow our step-by-step instructions on how to make each component of the dessert, and assemble it all into the delicious layers that will form a kind of cake when refrigerated overnight.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Tiramisu Recipe

Make the zabaglione* custard:
*Italian custard made with Marsala wine
6 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Marsala wine

Double boiler assembly with egg and Marsala wine being whisked above the water pot
Double boiler assembly with zabaglione custard thickening off heat

Off heat, beat the egg yolks and sugar on the top pot of a double boiler with a whisk gently
until combined and the yolks become pale yellow.   Do not beat too hard and do not form foam when doing this.

(Tip: When you think the sugar has been well mixed into the egg yolks, test the consistency by lifting your whisk up with a bit of the mixture on it.  The egg/sugar mixture should fall off the whisk slowly. This is called “forming the ribbon.”  When this happens, the eggs and sugar have been mixed well enough.)

Fill the bottom pot 1/2 of the way up with water and heat to a simmer on the stove. (Small bubbles form around the edges of the water when it is at a simmer.)

Place the pot with the egg yolk mixture over the pot with the simmering water.

Stir the beaten egg yolks constantly with a whisk while slowly pouring in the Marsala wine.

Continue to stir for about 5 to 6 minutes.  At the same time, check the bottom pot of water for how how rapidly the water is boiling and control the heat to keep the water boiling at a simmer for this amount of time. Then, raise heat if necessary to thicken the custard as in tip below.

(Tip:  The custard needs to heat up slowly, or you will end up with scrambled eggs.  But, if you need to, increase the heat until the water is brought to a full boil.  Put the pot down for a few seconds until the custard starts to thicken. At this point, small balls of custard will start to form.  Immediately take off heat and keep beating as the custard thickens.  Lower heat back to simmer and continue to beat until smooth.) 

When the mixture has thickened, transfer to a bowl and chill for 30 minutes.

 Make the cream filling:
1 cup whipping cream (cold)
4 Tbsp sugar
2 (8 oz.) containers of  Mascarpone cheese, softened room temperature
(can substitute American cream cheese)
chilled zabaglione custard made as above

 Bowl with whipped cream forming peaks with the whisk lifted up
Whipped cream forming peaks when the whisk is lifted

Beat the whipping cream and sugar together in a large bowl with a standing mixer and a whipping attachment or an electric mixer until firm peaks form.  Start off beating slowly, then gradually increase speed of mixer to high. At the end, beat more slowly so you can watch carefully to get the desired consistency.  (Too much beating and you may make butter!)

(Tip: When peaks start to form, you will see ridges in the whipped cream.  To check the consistency, take up a bit of the whipped cream on the beater and hold up.  You will see peaks standing up in the whipped cream in the bowl and also on the beaters.)

Lighten up the mascarpone cheese by beating with a mixer if desired.

Add half of the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream in teaspoon amounts.  Fold the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream until well blended. Add the rest of the mascarpone cheese in teaspoon amounts and blend in.

Then fold in the chilled zabaglione custard into the whipped cream/Mascarpone cheese mixture until well blended.

Make the coffee syrup mixture:
2 cups espresso coffee (cooled)
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the espresso coffee, Marsala wine, and vanilla in a measuring cup.
Refrigerate until cool.

 

 Assemble the tiramisu (have the following ready):

  1. Custard filling
  2. Coffee syrup
  3.  Savoiardi lady finger cookies, 2 (7.05 oz.) packages
  4. Cocoa powder for dusting

Note: Two packages of lady fingers are used in this recipe to make two layers in a rectangular pan approximately 9″ X 13.” Custard is enough to cover the 2 layers of ladyfingers. If you like a thicker custard layer, use a smaller pan and less ladyfinger cookies! 

Butter the bottom of the pan you will use.

Arrange a single layer of lady finger cookies in your pan, with the sugar-coated side facing up.

Lady finders lined up in a large rectangular pan
First layer of ladyfinger cookies lined up in the pan

Using a tablespoon, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of coffee syrup on each cookie. Use up about one cup of the coffee syrup in total on the first layer of cookies.

First layer of ladyfingers with coffee sprinkled on
Sprinkling coffee over ladyfinger cookies for Tiramisu

Spread 1/2 of the custard filling mixture over the cookies.

Custard is spread over ladyfingers
Spreading custard over ladyfinger cookies for Tiramisu

Dust with the cocoa powder until top of custard is well covered. (Tip: Use a strainer, tapping the side to make a smooth layer of cocoa. The strainer will also remove lumps of cocoa powder.)

Tiramisu dusted with cocoa powerder
Tiramisu dusted with cocoa powder

Repeat cookie layer, 1 cup of coffee syrup, custard filling, and cocoa powder.

Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight to allow the cookies to absorb the coffee syrup and become moist.

Cut into squares to serve. Enjoy with a cup of espresso coffee!

 

Optional: Sponge cake for Tiramisu :
6 large eggs separated, yolks and whites reserved room temp.
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup cake flower

Preheat oven to 375° and coat a 13″ X 9″ pan with oil.  Sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.

Beat egg yolks with a whisk until foamy and set aside.

Use a large bowl and a standing mixer or an electric mixer to whip the egg whites and powdered sugar until still peaks form.

Gradually  fold in egg yolks.

Fold in cake flour until blended.

Pour batter into the pan.

Bake 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (An oven that heats evenly is essential, or the center of your cake may form a peak as it heats unevenly.)

Cool 5 minutes and then loosen cake and invert on a rack to cool.

To assemble the tiramisu, cut the cake in half into two equal pieces.  One will fit as the bottom piece on an 8″ or 9″ baking dish (ungreased).

Spoon over espresso coffee syrup as given above with the addition of 2 tsp of sugar, then custard mixture, then cocoa.

Add next layer of cake and repeat.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight to allow the cake to absorb the coffee syrup and become moist.

Cut into squares to serve.  Enjoy with a cup of espresso coffee!

—Adapted from the cooking classes given by the Italian-American Society of Peoria. Thanks to Rudy Litwin, IAS President in 2012, for contributing the sponge cake to this recipe! 

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Tiramisù Pick-Me-Up: Dessert Recipe from Italy

Cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Verbs book resting on an Italian red-checkered tablecloth

Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands

Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive  Commands 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Italian subjunctive commands:  Learn when to use the  Italian subjunctive mood to give familiar commands and  how to make polite commands! 

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Commands — Familiar and Polite Commands 

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the Italian language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Do you know which situations use the Italian subjunctive mood? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on!

This is the final blog in the “Speak Italian” blog series that has focused on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss the Italian imperative verb tense, or “command form” of a verb. Then we will describe how to make and use Italian subjunctive commands. A dependent clause in the subjunctive mood can be used with the familiar command form of a verb. We will also discuss how to use the Italian present tense subjunctive as an independent clause to give a polite command. 

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we have been presenting situations take the Italian subjunctive mood.

In this blog, we will present when to use the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense with familiar commands, as well as how to use the present tense subjunctive as an independent clause to give polite commands.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy our blog: “Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands 
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


Speak Italian (Part 7): A brief note about and review of the Italian subjunctive mood 

As noted in the last section, in this blog we will present
how to make Italian subjunctive commands.  

This will be the last blog in our Italian subjunctive mood series!

Before starting this blog, please review the comments in the next section about how the Italian subjunctive mood is used in the Italian language. All the material we have covered so far about the Italian subjunctive mood is also listed for review at the end of this section, with links to our previous blogs.

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In previous blogs, we have noted that Italian uses a subjunctive mood that to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mood, and these initial phrases can be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense) or in the conditional tense. These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

These groups are listed below.

Groups 1-9: “Noun Clauses”

Group 10: “Adverbial Clauses”

Groups 11 and 12: “Adjective/Pronoun Clauses”

      1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the subjunctive clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
      2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
      3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
      4. Phrases that express suspicion, such as, ” I suspect that…” or “Sospetto che…”
      5. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and ” To wonder if…” or “Chiedersi se… “
      6. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…
      7. Phrases that use the verbs volere, desiderare, chiedere, esigere  when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      8. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
      9. Phrases that express feelings (any emotion, fear, surprise) and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb].  When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
      10. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che:  affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that, only if)**, a meno che, senza che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that).  Also the many words that mean although/even though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).***
      11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing:  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
      12. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).
      13. Phrases that correspond to the English “both… and…” use the conjunction sia and the structure “sia… che…”
      14. Hypothetical Phrases:  Phrases that begin with se (if) in certain situations. Phrases that begin with come se (as if), magari (if only), ammesso che (assuming that)

For a review of how to use the groups of phrases that need the Italian subjunctive mood  listed above, please see our previous blogs on this topic by clicking on the links below:

How to Use the Present Tense Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 1-3). 

How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive for Italian Past Tense (Parts 1-3)

How to Use The Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 4 and 5) — Hypothetical Phrases

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Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow. (Use  pensare a when thinking ABOUT something or someone.)

**solo se also means only if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

*** anche se also means even though/if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

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Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though, If

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Familiar Commands 

What is the Familiar Command Form of a Verb?

The imperative tense, or “command form” of a verb is used when one wants to relay an urgent request, give advice, or give an order.

In Italian, familiar commands — commands given by one person to another person or to a group of people that know each other —  are realized by conjugating the commanding verb in the same way as for the present tense and adding an exclamation point after the sentence in writing.  

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How to Conjugate Verbs for the
Familiar Command Form

The table below shows the familiar imperative endings for the –are, -ere, and –ire verb groups. These endings are removed to create the stem, to which the endings in the table are added. In written Italian, an exclamation point is used to convey the idea that the verb is in the imperative form.

Note that with the imperative verb form, by definition, the speaker is always giving a command to someone else.  This means that there is no first person, or io conjugation to learn.

The tu command form is used when one person is giving a command to a single individual.  You will note from the red highlighted –a that only the –are verbs have an imperative ending that differs from the present tense. The -ere and -ire verb endings for the tu imperative from are identical to the present tense.

When speaking to a group of people we know, with the familiar you all, or voi form, the endings for the imperative present tense are also identical to the simple present tense!

There is an imperative noi form, which also has endings that are identical to the present tense.  For the noi imperative form, the meaning of the verb changes to: “Let’s… something.” Now, doesn’t it make sense that “Andiamo!” means, “Let’s go!”?  We are simply using the imperative form of the present tense!

 

Familiar Imperative Tense Endings

  -are -ere -ire
tu a(!) i(!) i(!)
noi iamo(!) iamo(!) iamo(!)
voi ate(!) ete(!) ite(!)

 

When creating a sentence with the familiar command form, the subject pronoun is usually left out, as is usual for Italian, although it can sometimes be added for emphasis. In most cases of spoken Italian, though, the sentence will consist of just the verb itself. See the examples below.

  Guardare

(to look)

Rispondere

(to answer)

Partire

(to leave)

tu Guarda!
Look!
Rispondi!
Answer!
Parti!
Leave!
noi Guardiamo!
Let’s look!
Rispondiamo!
Let’s answer!
Partiamo!
Let’s leave!
voi Guardate!
(You all) look!
Rispondete!
(You all) answer!
Partite!
(You all) leave!

 

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How to Conjugate  Irregular Verbs for the
Familiar Command Form

There are many verbs that are irregular in the familiar command form, including all of the auxiliary verbs, which are: avere, essere, and stare.  The familiar imperative conjugations for the auxiliary verbs and additional commonly used verbs are given in the tables below.

Imperative Irregular Auxiliary Verbs 

  Avere

(to have)

Essere

(to be)

Stare

(to be/stay)

tu abbi! sii! stà!
noi abbiamo! siamo! stiamo!
voi abbiate! siate! state!

 

Imperative Irregular Verbs

  Andare

(to go)

Dare

(to give)

Dire

(to say/to tell)

Fare

(to do/to make)

tu vai!, ! dai!, ! di! fai!, !
noi andiamo! diamo! diciamo! facciamo!
voi andate! date! dite! fate!

 

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How to Make Negative Familiar Commands

When commanding someone you know not to do something – using the familiar tu form – it is very easy.  Whether the verb is regular or reflexive, simply put the word non in front of the infinitive form of the verb.  In other words, do not conjugate!

To make a negative command with a reflexive verb in the tu form, the “si” ending is dropped and the reflexive pronoun ti then needs to be tacked on to the end of the  verb.

For all verbs, leave out the subject pronoun tu from the sentence.  In our examples this subject pronoun will be given in parentheses as a reminder.

So, using preoccuparsi (to be worried) and guardare (to look) and parlare (to talk/speak) as examples:

(tu)    Non preoccuparti!       Don’t (you fam.) worry yourself!

(tu)     Non guardare!             Don’t (you fam.) look!

(tu)     Non parlare!                 Don’t (you fam.) speak!

 

For the negative in the noi and voi forms, conjugate as usual and simply put non in front of the verb.  Remember to add the reflexive pronoun to the ending of the verb if it is reflexive.  Again, the subject pronouns are usually omitted, and so are given in parentheses.

(noi)   Non preoccupiamoci!        Let’s not worry (ourselves)!
(voi)    Non preoccupatevi!            (You all) Don’t worry yourselves!

(noi)    Non guardiamo!                  Let’s not look!
(voi)    Non guardate!                       (You all) Don’t look!

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Where are Reflexive, Direct and Indirect Pronouns Placed in Sentences
with the  Familiar Command Form?

For a review of how to use reflexive, direct, and indirect object pronouns, please consult Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” book.  A summary table taken from this book is provided below to aid in the discussion of pronouns that follows.

Reflexive, Direct, and Indirect Object Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns Direct Object Pronouns Indirect Object Pronouns
mi myself mi me mi to me
ti yourself(fam.) ti you (fam.) ti to you (fam.)
si yourself (pol.) La (L’) you (pol.) Le to you (pol.)
si herself la (l’) her, it (fem.) le to her
si himself lo (l’) him, it (masc.) gli to him
ci ourselves ci us ci to us
vi yourselves vi you all vi to you all
si themselves le them (fem.) gli to them (fem.)
si themselves li them (masc.) gli to them (masc.)

Reflexive Pronouns:

When conjugating a reflexive verb into the familiar imperative form, it is not enough just to use the correct verb ending.  We must also place the reflexive pronoun in the proper position with respect to the verb, which in this case is after the verb, and attached to the end of the conjugated form!  This rule holds true for the tu, noi, and voi forms.  The conjugated verb and attached pronoun are spoken as one word (see below).

This rule may seem confusing at first, since we have spent so much time thinking in Italian and putting the reflexive pronouns before the verb.  Try to remember the correct way to conjugate the reflexive imperative verbs from everyday experiences.

For instance, when welcoming a friend into your home, you would say, “Accomodati!” for “Make yourself comfortable!” Common phrases a mother might say to a teenager on a school morning would be, “Alzati!”or, “Wake (yourself) up!” and “Sbrigati!” for “ Hurry (yourself) up!”.  And, in Italian households, each person in the family is encouraged to “Siediti!” for “Sit (yourself) down!” so everyone can eat together before the food gets cold!

Two example tables have been provided. Notice the spelling change for our example verb sbrigarsi for the noi form in the table below.  The spelling change is necessary to keep the sound of this form constant with the infinitive form and other conjugated forms.

 Imperative Accomodarsi – to get comfortable

tu Accomodati! Get (Make yourself) comfortable!
noi Accomodiamoci! Let’s get comfortable!
voi Accomodatevi! You all get comfortable!

 

 Imperative Sbrigarsi – to hurry (oneself) up

tu Sbrigati! Hurry (yourself/familiar) up!
noi Sbrighiamoci! Let’s hurry  (ourselves) up!
voi Sbrigatevi! Hurry (yourselves/familiar) up!

 

Direct and Indirect Pronouns:

After conjugating a regular verb into the familiar imperative form, if we want to include a direct or indirect object pronoun in the sentence, these pronouns will come after the verb, and will be attached to the end of the conjugated form. This should be easy to remember, as the sentence structure is the same as for English.

This rule also applies when the Italian direct and indirect object pronouns are themselves combined to make one word.

The conjugated Italian verb and attached pronoun are spoken as one word.

See the examples with the familiar command forms for dare (to give) and fare (to do/to make):  The “m” is doubled by convention in these constructions.

Dammi il pacco!      Give me the package!
Dammelo!                  Give it to me!

Fammi una torta per la festa stasera.     Make me a cake for the party tonight.
Fammela!                                                              Make it for me!

    

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How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood:
Familiar Commands

When one person is giving a command to another about what someone else should do  — in short, when the subject of the first phrase in the sentence is not the same as the subject in the second phrase — the second phrase verb will need to be in the subjunctive mood.

It should be noted here that the imperative form, or command form of a verb, is used not just to give a direct order, but also to make an urgent request or to give advice. So there are many instances when a command form may initiate a sentence. This command is then linked, as usual, with the conjunction che to the next phrase in the subjunctive mood.

Two examples,  with our command forms and subjunctive verbs in green.  Remember that the noi ending for the present tense (-iamo) serves as the present subjunctive ending as well.

(Tu) Di a Maria che  lei non faccia tardi.
(You) Tell Maria that she should not be late.

(Tu) Digli che ci vediamo domani!
(You) Tell him we’ll see him tomorrow!

 


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Polite Commands 

What is the Polite Command Form of a Verb?

The imperative tense, or “command form” of a verb is used when one wants to relay an urgent request, give advice, or give an order.

In Italian, polite commands — commands given by one person to another person or to a group of people that the speaker does not know well —  are realized by conjugating the commanding verb in the present tense subjunctive mood. An exclamation point may be added after the command if desired.

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How to Conjugate Verbs in the
Polite Command Form = Present Subjunctive

The table below shows the present tense subjunctive endings for the –are, -ere, and –ire verb groups. These endings are removed to create the stem, to which the endings in the table are added. In written Italian, an exclamation point is used to convey the idea that the verb is in the imperative form.

Note that with the imperative verb form, by definition, the speaker is always giving a command to someone else that he or she does not know well.  This means that there is no first person, or io conjugation to learn.

The Lei, or polite you, present tense subjunctive form of the verb is used when one person is giving a command to a single individual that he or she does not know well.

The Loro, or polite you plural, present tense subjunctive form of the verb can be used when one person is giving a command to a group of people that he or she does not know well. This situation may occur in organizations, or in large gatherings, when a leader or speaker must address a group of people. We will not provide examples using the Loro, or polite you form, as it is no longer in common use.

The table below gives the conjugation for the first three persons of the subjunctive mood, for the -are, -ere, and -ire groups of verbs.  Notice that within each group, the endings are the same for all three persons.

 

Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense for Polite Commands

Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a

 

When creating a sentence with the polite command form, the subject pronoun is left out. Below are the subjunctive present tense conjugations for the example verbs we encountered in the earlier section.  The tables to follow give the present tense subjunctive conjugations  for the auxiliary verbs and the common irregular verbs we discussed in the last section.

  Guardare

(to look)

Rispondere

(to answer)

Partire

(to leave)

Lei Guardi!
Look!
Risponda!
Answer!
Parta!
Leave!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Auxiliary Verbs for Polite Commands

  Avere

(to have)

Essere

(to be)

Stare

(to be/stay)

Lei abbia! sia! stia!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Verbs for Polite Commands

  Andare

(to go)

Dare

(to give)

Dire

(to say/to tell)

Fare

(to do/to make)

Lei Vada! Dia! Dica! Faccia!

 

******************************

Where are Reflexive, Direct and Indirect Pronouns Placed in Sentences
with the Polite Command Form?

For a review of how to use reflexive, direct, and indirect object pronouns, please consult Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” book.  A summary table taken from this book was provided in the last section to aid in the discussion of pronouns that follows.

Reflexive Pronouns:

When conjugating a reflexive verb into the polite imperative form, it is not enough just to use the correct subjunctive verb ending.  We must also place the reflexive pronoun in the proper position with respect to the verb, which in this case is before the verb.

Below is a summary table that shows the differences between the familiar and polite command forms of the reflexive verb accomodarsi  that we used as our example in the first section.  This is one verb that is heard quite often in both its familiar and polite forms and well-worth committing to memory.

 Imperative Accomodarsi – to get comfortable

tu Accomodati! Get (Make yourself) comfortable! 
Lei Si Accomodi! Get (Make yourself) comfortable!  

 

Direct and Indirect Pronouns:

After conjugating a regular verb into the polite imperative form with the correct subjunctive ending, if we want to include a direct or indirect object pronoun in the sentence, these pronouns will come before the verb.

This rule also applies when the Italian direct and indirect object pronouns are themselves combined to make one word, which will be pronounced separately.

Below are the examples provided in the section on familiar command forms for dare (to give) and fare (to do/to make).  The polite command form has been added to each.

Familiar:   Dammi il pacco!      Give me the package!
Polite:        Mi dia il pacco! 

Familiar:  Dammelo!                  Give it to me!
Polite:       Me lo dia

 

Familiar: Fammi una torta.     Make me a cake.
Polite:      Mi faccia una torta.

Familiar: Fammela!                       Make it for me!
Polite:      Me la faccia!

 

Familiar: Digli  che ci vediamo domani!    Tell him that we’ll see him tomorrow!
Polite:     Gli dica che ci vediamo domani!

 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

 Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands 

A pot of meatballs cooking in tomato sauce on the stove. The NIAF wooden spoon with the slogan "Make Sunday Italian Again" is in the pot

Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Meatballs A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Everyone’s Italian-American mom makes her own version of Italian Meatballs. And they are all the best!

Try Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs for YOUR Sunday Family Dinner! 

Italian Meatballs: A tribute to our Italian Mothers is a reprint from a blog originally posted on October 10, 2018, titled: “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs.”

I’ve since learned a about vegetarian meatballs from the blog post “Polpette di Melanzana (Eggplant Balls)” by Luca Marchiori, who mentions in his blog that it is traditional to make meatballs from eggplant in Puglia. He also notes that in Italy, “meat is only one of many ingredients Italians use to make polpette. In Rome, for example, there is a restaurant called Polpetta which serves them made from a variety of ingredients, many of them vegetarian. In fact their menu is topped by the hashtag #tuttoèpolpettabile (#youcanmakepolpettefromanything).”  

Also…

I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time!  I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

View this post on Instagram

My Mom’s Italian meatballs, from my family to yours. Surprise your mom and make meatballs for her this Mothers Day! If you want the answer to how the Italian polpetta came about visit my latest blog on www.blog.learntravelitalian.com. For the meatballs: 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 clove garlic, chopped, 2 Tbsps olive oil, plus more for frying, 1 lb. 80% lean ground beef, 1 egg, 3/4 c Progresso brand Italian bread crumbs, 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped finely, salt and pepper. For Southern Italian tomato sauce: 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 clove garlic chopped sautéed in 2Tb olive oil, 1 can (28 oz.) Contadina tomato puree, 1 can Contadina brand tomato paste, and also fill each can with water and add water, /4 cup dried paesley or fresh chopped parsley, 1 Tb. Dried basil or 2 Tbs. torn fresh basil, salt to taste. Buon appetito! #osnap @niaf @sons_of_italy @osia_su @chicagolanditalians #meatballs #italiancookingadventures #italiancookingclasses #italianfood #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodlover #italianfoods #italiandinner #tomatosauce #tomatopuree @contadina #lamiacucina #italianmeatballs #italianmeatball #homemademeatballs #meatballrecipe #meatballrecipes #meatballrecipetasty #italianamerican #italianamericanfood @mio_modernitalian

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

And now… the original story!

The blog title, “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs,” came about during an event I attended with the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals (CIAP) this fall.  The executive director, Salvatore Sciacca and his group feature Italian-American “cooking competition” events several times a year, and I have to say, they are always a delicious and  entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my family.

So, when I was invited to be one of the home cooks for this fall’s event,  The First Annual Meatball Fest,  I quickly checked my calendar, noted I was available, and signed up for another Sunday afternoon of Italian-American food and fun.

Making Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

I had learned  my family recipe for Italian meatballs from my Sicilian-American mother and grandmother long ago, and have been preparing meatballs  for my own family for Italian Sunday dinners for about 20 years now.  I was happy to share my family’s recipe with other families at the event, and also looking forward to tasting what the other home cooks had to offer.

Growing up in an Italian-American household as I did, I really did not have to  do anything special to prepare for the  Italian meatball event held by the CIAP group – at least,
I thought I didn’t have to do anything special !

As it turned out, though, after hearing the other home cooks talk about their method for making meatballs,  I came home curious about the origins of this very common Italian-American dish and ended up doing a bit of research after the event!

I decided to write a blog  to share my experiences that day and what I have been able to learn about  the evolution of the many different styles of meatballs that are loved here in America today.  And of, course, my family’s Italian-American recipe and tips I found from one of my favorite “go-to” Italian cook  books, Ada Boni’s  Italian Regional Cooking (translated from Italian into English by the International Culinary Society, New York ©1969will be included in the blog.

I’d love to hear how YOUR family makes Italian meatballs – leave a comment if you wish at the end of the blog! Buon appetito! – Kathryn Occhipinti

 


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How to Make “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”

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Let’s get back to the story of the day I was a home cook for  The First Annual Meatball Fest,  held by CIAP.

The morning of the CIAP event, I rummaged around the  basement to find my trusty crock pot, rinsed it off, and set a pot of tomato sauce to cook on the stove.  I set a large bowl on the counter and followed the same routine as I have done many times before for my family: put  ground beef  and all other ingredients into the large bowl, mix gently, and  roll into balls.

Meatball ingredients ready to mix
Italian meatball ingredients ready to mix
Italian meatball ready to fry
One Italian meatball ready to fry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am from the  “Italian Mom’s Cooking School” that fries, rather than bakes meatballs to brown them. ( Sorry, I hope I haven’t offended anyone – I know there is a BIG debate about this in the Italian-American community, but I think browning dries out the meatballs and is better left to restaurants making large batches of meatballs at one time.)

I browned my meatballs in olive oil carefully, turning each with tongs to get them browned on all sides.

 

Fry Italian meatballs in olive oil
Italian meatballs frying in olive oil
Italian meatballs turned in olive oil
Turn Italian meatballs gently to brown all sides evenly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the meatballs had browned, I added them gently to the simmering pot of tomato sauce on the stove to finish cooking.

I was taught to always stir my tomato sauce with a wooden spoon, and have a small collection of wooden spoons – some with long  handles, some with short handles;  some I save just for sauteing onions and garlic, others for “non-onion” savory or sweet dishes – but recently have been using my favorite  wooden spoon for my tomato sauce, which I bought as a part of a fundraiser for the National Italian American Foundation.

The NIAF recently started a “Make Sunday Italian Again” campaign, which I love, as it not only promotes Sunday time together with family, but also  raises money for their scholarship program by selling these “Nonna spoons” that have the slogan “Make Sunday Italian Again” engraved on the wooden handle.  Check out the NIAF website, if you like, after you finish reading this blog, of course!

Tomato sauce with Italian Meatballs
Italian meatballs cooking in tomato sauce

 

After about 30 minutes,  the meatballs had finished cooking and the sauce had a nice, meaty taste.  I adjusted the salt and pepper, put all into the crock pot and left to join the event.

When I arrived at the event, with my tried and true  “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”, I learned that I was one of 10 different contributors to the dinner!  I named my meatballs “Mom’s Best”,  because it seems to me that every Italian mother’s meatballs are loved and considered the best by her family!

CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest September 2018 attended by author Kathryn Occhipinti
Author/Blogger Kathryn Occhipinti at the CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest, September 2018

I was happy to see Italian-American home cooks of all ages, and both men and women contributed their meatballs for the event. There were two long tables of meatballs and a long line formed as everyone tried to taste them all.

CIAP 1st Annual Meatball FestEnjoying Italian meatballs at the CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest

At first, I had thought this would be a competition, but as it turned out, just as I had suspected, although all the meatballs were made with different ingredients, EVERYONE’s meatballs were delicious, and in the end, no vote was taken!

CIAP Mom's Best Italian Meatballs
Italian Meatballs to sample
CIAP Meatball Fest
More Italian Meatballs

 

Even more Italian meatballs
Even more Italian meatballs!

 

Below is a picture of those who participated, holding signs with the names of the type of meatballs they contributed. (I am in the back row and the Executive Director, Salvatore Sciacca, is just to my left.)

CIAP Italian meatball home cooks
Italian home cooks holding signs of the names of their meatballs at CIAP’s 1st Italian Meatball Fest

Read on for the recipe that I used to make my “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”.  Additional tips I learned from reading about meatballs are given in green italic lettering.  As a bonus, I am including my family’s recipe for basic Italian tomato sauce.  For tips on making Italian tomato sauce, please visit my blog Braciole – Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner.   Of course,  your own favorite tomato sauce will be fine as well!

But don’t stop after reading the first recipe, because when I went home I did a bit of research in Ada Boni’s cook book and discovered more tips on making “the best” meatballs in different styles that you may want to try yourself!

 


Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs 

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil +more for frying
1 lb. ground beef (80% lean best)
1 egg
3/4 cup Progresso brand Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper to taste.

This recipe will serve 4 people; it can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd!

Coat a small frying pan lightly with some olive oil  and add the chopped onion and garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onions and garlic have softened and given their flavor to the olive oil.

(I find that sauteing the onions and garlic gives both a nice mellow taste, and I would recommend not skipping this step.  In fact, when my  daughter was young, she insisted that she didn’t like onions,  so I would remove the onions after competing this step and she never caught on to my trick!)

Put the sauteed onions and garlic, with the olive oil, into a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients: 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil,  ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs and parsley.

Sprinkle with salt and a grind of fresh pepper  to taste (some people like more pepper, others less).

Mix gently with your hands, careful not to work the meat too much or this may make the meatballs tough!

Adjust amount of breadcrumbs as needed – more if you more, less to make a more  “meaty” meatball.  If too dry, add a few drops more of olive oil.

(What I learned from researching meatballs – moisten the breadcrumbs in a bit of milk to make for a more tender meatball. The milk should be heated gently on the stove before adding the bread.  When all milk is absorbed, mash into a pulp with a fork.)

When the meatball mixture consistency is to your liking, pull a bit of the meat mixture off and roll into a ball to make a meatball.  Size of the meatballs is to taste, but of course the larger meatballs will need to finish cooking longer in the tomato sauce.

Set a frying pan coated with olive oil over medium-high heat.

Place the newly rolled meatballs gently into the frying pan. Fry on medium high heat (adjusting as necessary during the frying time), turning each with tongs so all sides become browned.

(What I learned from researching meatballs – roll each in a bit of flour or plain bread crumbs to aid browning and help the meatballs hold together during frying.)

After the meatballs have browned, immediately remove them with tongs and gently place into a pot of simmering tomato sauce (recipe below) to finish cooking.

Serve with spaghetti for the Italian-American presentation, or continue on to the following Italian recipes for other serving ideas.

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Southern Italian Tomato Sauce  

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) Contadina brand tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
1 can Contadina brand tomato paste
1/4 cup dried parsley or chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon dried basil or 2 Tablespoons torn fresh basil
1 Tablespoon of salt or to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onions and garlic with a wooden spoon until softened.

Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, parsley, and basil to the same pot.

Add 2 cups of water.

Cover, bring the sauce to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer on medium-low heat with the lid partially covering the pot, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for at least 1 hour, so the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Cook for at least 1 hour; at least 1.5 hours if adding meat to the sauce. (Brown any meat in a separate skillet before adding it.)

Add additional water if the sauce becomes too thick, or cook for additional time with the lid of the pot off if the sauce becomes too thin.

 


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How to Make Italian Meatballs – My research…

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Ada Boni,  (1881 – 1973) the author of  one of my favorite Italian cook books, Italian Regional Cooking, was a well-loved Italian author and food writer.  According to the back flap of the edition of my book, Ada Boni is known throughout Italy as the author of the classic bestselling cook book, Il Talismano della Felicità.

Boni worked as a magazine editor in Italy.  This book is a collection of the series of food articles about regional Italian cooking that was originally written for the Italian monthly magazine “Arianna”.  The magazine articles cataloged in depth recipes for the entire range of food served in the 14 major regions of Italy, long before the importance of regional cooking was understood here in America.  Boni was and still is well-known for the authenticity and variety of her recipes.

The book  Italian Regional Cooking is beautifully illustrated, with a spectacular photo montage of each Italian region to be covered at the beginning of each chapter that provides a backdrop for Italian tables laden with dishes from appetizer to dessert that evoke a special family gathering.  (There are no images for each individual recipe, however).  Although I have an edition from 1969 translated into English, the book is still listed on Amazon today.  I found this book about 30 years ago in a book store in California and my cover is tattered by now!

Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni
The book cover from “Italian Regional Cooking” by Ada Boni

When I wanted to research Italian meatballs, I searched this cook book in particular for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to discover if the way Italian-Americans now make meatballs differs significantly from how an Italian in southern Italy makes meatballs.  Second, I wanted to see if I could figure out the origins of the meatballs I make today.

 

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The Ingredients in Sicilian Meatballs

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In answer to my first question – do we make meatballs differently over here than they do in Italy, I searched  the chapter in Italian Regional Cooking that lists the recipes for Sicily.  I was pretty certain when I started my search that my family’s recipe was authentic, as it has been handed down from my grandmother, who spent her first 22 years in Sicily, and as the oldest child had been helping her mother with the household cooking since she was a young girl.

It turns out that the ingredients in Ada Boni’s  Sicilian“Polpette di Maiale con Pitaggio” are almost identical to my family’s meatballs.  “Polpette”* is the Italian word for what we call “meatballs” in America, but the translation given is, “Pork Rissoles with Vegetables.”

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The meat used for the meatball recipe from Sicily is pork, rather than beef, which of course would be more easy to come by in Sicily.  If I have ground pork or ground turkey on hand, I occasionally will use this meat to “lighten up” the meatballs.  The CIAP cooks used a variety of different meats (see about Neapolitan meatballs below).  The meatballs were rolled in a bit of flour before frying, which is an idea I will use from now on.

Instead of breadcrumbs, the recommendation is to soften the “pith of a small roll” with milk and “squeeze it dry.”  Several of the home cooks at the CIAP event mentioned using this method instead of  bread crumbs, and I will have to try this on my next attempt at making meatballs.   And, of course,  the Progresso brand of breadcrumbs is an American invention, so here is how we changed the meatball over in America for sure!

Other than that, the ingredients listed  for Sicilian Polpette were about the same as the meatballs I had learned to make.  The onion my family puts into meatballs was left out, but  included were garlic, fresh parsley, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and a bit of flour to coat the meatballs before frying. The flour is another good tip!  Most of the CIAP cooks included these ingredients.

How to serve Sicilian meatballs: Suggested  serving was with sauteed artichokes (with chokes removed), green peas and fava beans in the same oil used for frying the meatballs.

I have not seen meatballs served this way, but plan on trying this suggestion, which sounds good  since true Italian meatballs  (I am told, but am not quite convinced) should served with Italian bread, rather than pasta.

 

***************************************

The Ingredients in Neapolitan Meatballs

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When I searched the chapter in Italian Regional Cooking  that lists the recipes for Napes-Capagna, I discovered “Polpette di Carne”, translated into “Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Neapolitan Style.” 

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The meat used for the meatball recipe from the Naples region is beef, which is probably the most common meat used in America today, although the CIAP cooks used ground pork and a mixture of been and pork as well.  One cook even made vegetarian meatballs of her own invention using zucchini flowers (Salvatore’s mother) and I have to say, they were delicious. Again, the meatballs were rolled in a bit of flour before frying.

Breadcrumbs were used in the Neapolitan recipe, of course grated from stale Italian bread,  and first moistened with a little milk.  This seems like a good idea to me, and I am going to include this tip from now on when I make meatballs.

The remaining ingredients listed  for Neapolitan Polpette differed significantly from the meatballs we see most frequently in America today in that they called for yellow raisins, pine nuts, and a bit of lard.  Onions were again left out. The remaining ingredients of garlic, parsley, eggs, and Parmesan cheese were the same basic ingredients given in the Sicilian recipe.

I tried the Neapolitan style meatballs one night for dinner (you might notice some pine nuts in the  images of my mixing bowl from the first section of the blog!), warning my family that they would taste sweeter than our usual meatball.  I have to say the addition of milk and a bit of lard made them the most tender meatballs I have ever had!

But it seems like Americans have lost their taste for a “sweet” meatball, however, and it was a consensus at the CIAP dinner that “no one” here in America used raisins anymore.

How to serve Neapolitan meatballs: Suggested  serving was with tomato sauce, and a recipe for simple tomato sauce was provided, as noted in the title for the recipe.

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How to Make Italian Meatballs – My conclusions…

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It seems to me that there are as many ways to make and serve Italian meatballs as there are home cooks to make them! I do find it interesting, though, that here in America we have retained the idea of cooking meatballs in tomato sauce, whether the idea is from Sicily or Naples, and meatballs are paired with spaghetti is indeed an “American classic”.

 

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 * A final tidbit of interesting information:  when I looked up the word “polpette” in the dictionary, which means “meatballs,” I discovered that the Italian singular “polpetta” for  the singular meatball, has several negative connotations.  “Polpetta” can refer to “poisoned bait,” possibly because the reference is to little pieces of meat that are poisoned. “Polpetta” can also be used in a figurative sense, to mean that a person is a “dud” or a “drag.”  

Kathryn Occhipinti


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
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“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Photo of the Greek ruins at Agrigento Sicily, with tall columns reaching to a bright blue sky with puffy clouds.

How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog    How to talk about weather in Italian: Important Italian phrases and vocabulary you need to know when talking about the weather with Italian friends and colleagues!

This blog series, “How to Talk About… in Italian” will focus on the topics that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian family, friends and colleagues. We will focus on the important Italian phrases and Italian vocabulary we all need to know to become more fluent when we speak about everyday events in Italian!

The topic for this month — the weather — comes up frequently during daily conversation, both when making small talk with acquaintances and also when planning activities with family, friends, and co-workers. In the “How to Talk About Weather in Italian” blog for this month, we will focus on common Italian phrases needed to ask and answer questions about the weather.  We will also give examples of common Italian expressions that can be used to describe all four seasons.

Italians have a different approach than English-speakers when making references to the weather.  For instance, Italians talk about what the weather is making, rather than what the weather is at a given point in time. So first, we will learn how to use the Italian verb fare (to do/to make) to describe “what the weather is making” when we speak. We must first “think in Italian” if we want to talk about the weather in Italian!

Enjoy the second topic in this “How to Talk About…” series, “How to Talk About Weather in Italian.” —Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material was originally presented on the  Conversational Italian! blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! “ Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

 

For a general assessment of the weather, Italians use the ever popular verb fare in the third person singular, which you will remember is fa. (If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the verb fare, you will find this in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”  reference book.)

In English, the verb to be is used to directly refer to “it,” meaning “the weather,” and how “it” actually “is” outside. Instead, Italians speak of the weather “it” is making with the verb fa. So, it is very important to think in Italian if we want to talk about the weather in Italian!

Remember that the reference to “it” in the Italian sentence will be left out, as usual.

Below are some examples of how this works, with the correct English translation in black and the literal Italian translation in gray, so we can understand the Italian approach to this topic.

If you don’t know what the weather is like and want to ask someone a question about the weather,  you can use many of the same phrases that we have listed below to describe the weather. Just raise your voice at the end of the sentence to signal that you are asking a question. There is no need to invert the subject and the verb to make a question, as we do in English.

Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weatheril tempo.

Che tempo fa?
What is the weather?  (lit. What weather does it make?)

Fa caldo.
Fa molto caldo!
Fa caldo?
It is warm/hot.
It is very hot!
Is it warm/hot?
(lit. It makes heat.)
Fa fresco.
Fa fresco?
It is cool.
Is it cool?
(lit. It makes cool.)
Fa freddo.
Fa freddissimo!
Fa freddo?
It is cold.
It is very cold!
Is it cold?
(lit. It makes cold.)
Fa bel tempo.
Fa bel tempo?
It is nice weather.
Is it nice weather?
(lit. It makes nice weather.)
Fa bello.

Fa bellissimo.

It is nice/very nice out. (lit. It makes nice/very nice weather.)
Fa brutto tempo.
Fa brutto tempo?
It is bad weather.
Is it bad weather?
(lit. It makes bad weather.)
Fa brutto. It is bad outside. (lit. It makes bad weather.)

Of course, we may want to know how the weather was during a certain event or at a certain time.  Chatting about the weather is a common pastime in any country. Why not chat in Italian about recent weather conditions yesterday, last week, or last year?

To talk about the weather in the immediate past tense, we must return to the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.  For an in-depth explanation of how to use the imperfetto and passato prossimo forms of the Italian past tense, click on the link for the verb tense listed in this sentence that you want to learn about in this sentence.  Or, take a look at our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs.”

The imperfetto third person singular form of fare, which is  faceva, is the most commonly used form with our general expressions.

Of course, if we want to refer to a specific time frame, the passato prossimo third person singular form of fare, which is  ha fatto, should be used.

Below are the general questions about the weather from the last example table, this time in the past tense: 

Che tempo faceva? What was the weather? (lit. What weather did it make?)
Come era il tempo? How was the weather?  

 And our answers, depending on the situation…

Faceva caldo. It was hot. (lit. It made heat.)
Ha fatto caldo tutto il giorno.  It was hot all day.  
     
Faceva fresco. It was cool. (lit. It made cool.)
Ha fatto fresco ieri. It was cool yesterday.  
     
Faceva freddo. It was cold. (lit. It made cold.)
Ha fatto freddo quest’inverno. It was cold all winter.  
Faceva bel tempo. It was nice weather. (lit. It made nice weather.)
Faceva bello. It was nice outside. (lit. It made nice weather.)
     
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather. (lit. It made bad weather.)
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad outside. (lit. It made bad weather.)

Now, let’s try to be more specific and descriptive when we talk about the weather, and talk about common weather conditions, such as the rain, snow and wind, and how the weather changes throughout the seasons. Below are a few conversational sentences. Living in Chicago, I couldn’t resist a few lines about the show we’ve had to shovel this past winter.  How many more can you think of?

È primavera.* It is springtime.
Ci sono nuvole scure. There are dark clouds.
Viene a piovere. (It) is going to rain.
(lit. Here comes the rain.)
C’e la pioggia? Is it raining?
Piove. It’s raining.
Tira vento. It’s windy.
I fiori sono in fiore. The flowers are blooming.
Ho un mazzo di rose rosse che ho colto dal giardino. I have a bunch of red roses that I picked from the garden.
È estate.* It is summer.
C’è sole. It’s sunny. (lit. There is sun.)
È umido. Andiamo alla spiaggia! It’s humid. Let’s go to the beach!
È autunno.* It is autumn.
Fa fresco. It is cool. (lit. It makes coolness).
Le foglie cadano dagli alberi. The leaves fall from the trees.
È inverno.* It is winter.
È gelido. It’s freezing.
La gelata è dappertutto. The frost is everywhere.
C’è la neve? Is it snowing?
Nevica. It’s snowing.
C’è la bufera di neve. It’s a snowstorm.
I fiocchi di neve sono tanti. There are so many snowflakes.
I bambini fanno un pupazzo di neve. The children are making a snowman.
Mi piace sciare. Ho gli sci belli. I like skiing. I have wonderful skis.
Devo spalare la neve ora! I have to shovel the snow now!
Voglio una pala per la neve. I want a snow shovel.
Uso sempre uno spazzaneve. I always use a snowblower.

*In a simple statement about what season it is, the definite article (il, la, l’ = the) is not used.  However, in a longer sentence such as, “È l’inverno che porta neve,” the article is used. (Translations: It is the winter that brings the snow/Winter brings the snow.)


Finally, there are a few rules to follow if we want to talk about specific weather conditions in the past tense.

Let’s say we want to tell a story to our friend about the day that has just ended and we’d like to include a description of the weather. In this case, if we want to talk about a single, specific  instance in time when we experienced a certain weather condition, we must use the passato prossimo form of the past tense.

When using the passato prossimo, the verbs piovere, nevicare, and tirare can be conjugated using either avere or essere, as the helping verb, as in:

Ieri ha piovuto per due ore.         Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

            or

Ieri è piovuto per due ore.          Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

General phrases in the past tense about the sun, clouds, fog or humidity are spoken about using the imperfetto past tense.  Or, if we want to mention the weather as the “setting” or underlying condition that edited at the same time as a certain activity that happened in the past, we would again use the imperfetto past tense.

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The expressions we have already encountered earlier in this blog are given below again, this time in the imperfetto in the first column and in the passato prossimo in the second column.

Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense. And how the word “it” is, as usual, left out of the Italian phrase, but necessary for the English translation.

The words gia (already) and appena (just) are commonly used with the passato prossimo to give additional information.

Pioveva.
It was raining.
Ha già piovuto.
It already rained.
Nevicava.
It was snowing.
Ha appena nevicato.
It has just snowed.
Tirava vento.
It was windy.
Ha tirato vento tutto il giorno.
It was windy all day.
C’era sole. It was sunny.
C’era nebbia. It was foggy.
Era nuvoloso. It was cloudy.         
Era sereno. It was clear.
Era umido. It was humid.
L’umidità è stata molto alta oggi. The humidity was very high today.
L’umidità è stata bassa oggi. The humidity was very low today.

Remember how to talk about weather in Italian and I guarantee
you will use these  Italian phrases every day!

And remember to study our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book if you want a handy way to remember all the important Italian phrases you will need to know!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

How to Talk about Email in Italian

Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split pea soup is as comforting as it is delicious. Make it French topped with homemade Provence herb croutons or make it Italian with ditalini pasta. But make it tonight!

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons or Ditalini Pasta! 

Split pea soup is a classic, hearty soup made for generations in the winter and spring, when fresh, green vegetables are scarce.  Peas can be dried after harvest and “split peas” will keep easily for 1 year or longer in the cupboard,  waiting to satisfy that yearning for a hearty soup until fresh peas become available in the springtime.

Since my family did not make split-pea soup when I was growing up, I researched a bit to discover that this soup is popular in both Italy and France. The split peas are cooked in essentially the same way, but the soups are finished differently.

In both versions, some type of ham product is commonly used to flavor the peas, although this can be left out to make a vegetarian soup. I’ve chosen pancetta, or Italian bacon, for the ham product in my soup. Chopped onions and carrots are a mainstay, as is the herb thyme.

In Italy, split pea soup is cooked until the peas fall apart by themselves in the soup, and the soup is left a little bit chunky.  The soup is then finished by adding in cooked Ditalini pasta or a potato cut into small cubes.  In France, the soup is pureed, and finished with a topping of canned peas or croutons.

I’ve included a method to make homemade croutons using herbs of Provence as the French garnish for my split-pea soup.  But I’m sure you’ll enjoy making these croutons for many more dishes once you realize how simple it is to make croutons yourself.

Whatever version you choose, this soup is sure to please your family! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make split pea soup and croutons if you like!

View this post on Instagram

Split pea soup with homemade croutons or Ditalini pasta for springtime! French and Italian finishes below. For the soup: 1 bag 26 oz. dried split peas soaked in water in measuring cup to make about 3-4 cups. Put in pot with 7 cups water 1/2tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda (if you have “hard water”) Bring to the boil slowly, in about 45 min so peas can absorb water. Skim foam off. After hard boil reached, skim foam and add finely chopped carrot and inion that has been sautéed in 2 Tb butter and 1/4 cup chopped pancetta (bacon). Also add herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, pinch of thyme and small bay leaf. Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours. Remive bay leaf when done! Can reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version. Italian version: add Cooked Ditalini pasta and enjoy. French version add 2 Tb butter, top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons. For the croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic, pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix and bake 400. Viola! #osnap @niafitalianamerican @italianjourney @sons_of_italy @osia_su @chicagolanditalians #peasoup #splitpeasoup #springsouptime #springsoupforthesoul #springsoupforlunch #frenchsplitpeasoup #italiansplitpeawithham #italiansplitpeasoup #crôutons #homemadecroutons #homemadecroutonsrecipe #homemadecrouton #herbsofprovence #herbsofprovance #ditalinipasta #ditalinipastasoup #crouton #croutons

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Split Pea Soup
with Homemade Croutons
or
Ditalini Pasta 

Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.
Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons and Ditalini Pasta

Ingredients
for the Soup:

1 bag (26 oz.) split peas, soaked in water to make 3-4 cups

2 Tb butter
1/4 cup pancetta or ham, diced into small cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, peeled and chopped finely
Fresh sprig or 1 tsp of  dried parsley
Fresh sprig or 1/8 tsp of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Italian style: 1 cup ditalini pasta, cooked

Ingredients
for the Croutons
(French style):

1 loaf French bread, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil,
1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (from jar)
pinch salt
dried parsley flakes
dried herbs of Provence.

Method

Put the 3-4 cups of soaked peas in large pot with 7 cups water.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda .(If you have “hard water” the baking soda will counteract the calcium salts in the hard water so the split peas can soften properly.*)

Bring the pot of water with split peas to the boil slowly, taking about 45 min. This will allow the peas to absorb the water properly and soften properly.* Skim foam off periodically as it comes to the surface.

While the split peas are coming to a boil, saute the finely chopped pancetta (or ham), onion and carrot in 2 Tb of butter and a pinch of salt until the vegetables soften. Do not brown.

After a rolling boil is reached, skim foam from the pot again and add the sauteed vegetables and ham.

Then add the herbs to taste. If fresh, the herbs should be added in a “bouquet garni,” wrapped in cheesecloth so they can be removed.  Dried herbs will soften and fall apart as the soup cooks. Suggested herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, sprig or pinch of dried thyme and  a small bay leaf.

Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours, until split peas fall apart and thicken the soup.

Remove bay leaf (and bouquet garni if used) when done!

Reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version.

Italian version: Cook 1/2 cup Ditalini pasta separately, add to soup and and enjoy.

French version: After pureeing, place back on the stove and add 2 Tb butter, blending into the soup as it melts. Top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons.

For the  homemade croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (add to olive oil and mix to coat evenly), pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix, spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400° until golden brown. Viola! Kathryn Occhipinti

Breadboard with French bread being cut into cubes
French bread cut for croutons
Croutons in a bowl with olive oil and jar of garlic in foreground
Croutons in bowl with olive oil and crushed garlic to add

 

 

 

 

Croutons ready to go into the oven.
Croutons spread out on a baking sheet, coated in olive oil, garlic and herbs and ready to go into the oven.
Croutons coated with olive oil, garlic and herbs ready to bake

*I learned these tips from the French cook book, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, first published in French in 1920, first translated into English as of 1995, and with a second edition in 2005.  As the forward states, “it is today recognized by many French home and restaurant cooks… as the most articulate and popular home cookbook available in bookstores, from the time of its first publication… in the late 1920s to these first years of the 20th century.” This cook book is filled with so many details about buying, prepping and cooking French food of every type that I am sure cooks of all levels will benefit from the knowledge imparted by Madame into the 21st century and beyond.

 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Recipe: Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Chicken with tomato sauce that contains Marsala wine and mushrooms is shown in the pan used to cook it on a table with a flower pattern

Italian Recipe: One Pot Chicken in Marsala Wine

One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

A delicious and easy to make family dinner. Try it tonight!

Try One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine for YOUR Dinner Tonight! 

Italian Recipe: One-Pot Chicken in Marsala Wine is a reprint from a blog originally posted on February 26, 2017. I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time! I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

******************************************************************

The recipe title, “One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine” sounds rich… and it is! But it is also so easy to make! I am told that for many years in Italy, only relatively wealthy families had ovens (in the day of my great grandparents). As a result, many wonderful Italian meals were developed that could be made entirely on the stove top. This actually fits perfectly with the lifestyle we live today.

In this chicken in Marsala wine recipe, a whole cut chicken is cooked in one large skillet along with the wine and few other ingredients until a silky gravy forms. This hearty and fulfilling dish can be made during the week or served when friends are over on the weekend. Hearty, crusty Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment. Add a salad or vegetable side dish (contorno) if you like.

So get out the largest skillet you have, and try our chicken in Marsala wine dish for your family tonight. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make the dish if you like!

View this post on Instagram

One Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine for Sunday dinner today. So easy you can make it any day of the week! Use a fryer chicken, browned in olive oil. Then saute chopped onion, garlic, pancetta and add Marsala wine. Reduce wine by 50%. Add mushrooms, tomatoes and parsley and cook, stirring. Return browned chicken to pan and add chicken stock and tomato juice from can to almost cover chicken. Cook chicken through, taking lid off to boil away water and thicken sauce to finish cooking. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the gravy. Buon appetito! #osnap @walkstours @italiarail @niafitalianamerican @rai1official @sons_of_italy @order_isda @italianjourney @prouditaliancook #italianfood #italiancooking #sundaydinner🍴 #sundaydinners #sundaydinnerideas #sundaydinnerclub #italiansunday #italiansundaydinner #italiansundaysupper #onepotmeal #onepotmeals #onepotrecipe #onepotrecipes #onepotrecipes❤️ #onepotchickenstew #onepotchickendinner #onepotchicken #onepotchickenmarsala #italianchickenstew #italianchickendinner #thatsamore

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One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

Ingredients

1 frying chicken, cut into 2 breasts, 2 thighs/legs, 2 wings
(any chicken with breasts and thighs of similar size)
up to 1/4 cup olive oil, as needed
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 strips guanciale (bacon from cheek of pig) or
2 strips prosciutto, chopped
3/4 cup Marsala wine
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes or
canned or fresh cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped coarsely

Method

Rinse the frying chicken inside and out, pat dry, and cut into pieces. Reserve the back for chicken soup to be made at a later date!

Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.

Use a large, shallow pot, Dutch oven, or skillet to cook all ingredients over medium high heat as follows:

Pour olive oil into your pot or skillet to coat the entire bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil, using  about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat oil over medium high heat (do not let the oil smoke or flavor will be lost).

Add chicken to the pan skin side down, keeping each piece separate from the other and cook without moving the chicken for a few minutes, until the skin has browned and some of the fat from under the skin has been rendered.

Turn chicken pieces once and cook about 5 minutes more.

Remove chicken pieces to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour out excess oil/fat from the skillet. Add fresh olive oil if necessary to coat the bottom lightly again.

Into the skillet, add the chopped onion, crushed garlic clove, and guanciale or prosciutto. Cook until the onion has softened.

Add Marsala wine and turn the heat up to high briefly to boil off alcohol while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release chicken bits that will help flavor the sauce. Lower heat and continue to boil off alcohol until about 50% of the Marsala wine remains in the pot.

Put the chicken back into the skillet and add tomatoes (with the juices in the can), mushrooms, and parsley. Add enough water, so the chicken and vegetables are almost completely covered.

Chicken in Marsala Wine
Browned chicken with vegetables and Marsala wine on the stove top

Cover the skillet and cook on medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, adding more water as needed, about 15 to 30 minutes (this will depend on how cooked the chicken was initially, of course).

Chicken in Marsala Wine Italian style
Italian chicken in Marsala wine with tomatoes added, cooking on the stove top

If the sauce is too watery at the end of cooking time, remove the lid and boil off some liquid gently. The sauce should be fairly thick.*

Taste, and adjust salt and pepper before serving.

Place the chicken pieces on a large platter or on individual plates. Pour on the sauce and serve with rustic Italian bread.

Italian Chicken in Marsala Tomato Sauce
Italian chicken Marsala served with a side of bread

*This method is a fricassee of chicken (a method of cooking meat in which it is cut up, sautéed and braised, and served with its sauce), so the sauce will be a little fatty. If you want to decrease the amount of fat, the same method can be followed with skinless, bone-in chicken cooked for a shorter time initially.

Kathryn Occhipinti


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Recipe: One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce in a bowl with crusty Italian bread next to it ready to sop up the sauce.

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Try Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari or stuffed sardines for your Italian Christmas Eve this year! Recipes courtesy of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italian Christmas Eve means a feast of 7 fishes with Calamari, Stuffed or Fried and Stuffed Sardines 

It is an Italian tradition to serve fish for Christmas Eve, in observance of the Catholic holiday.  In some towns in Italy and in many Italian-American families, this tradition has turned into a feast that features fish and shellfish for antipasto, primo and secondo courses —  fish is served fried, stuffed, with pasta, stewed, and baked.  Some families serve seven different types of fish, although I’m not sure if anyone really knows where the number seven originated from.

Each year, I plan my “feast of the 7 fishes” with some tried and true dishes — my shrimp scampi,  for instance, is always a big hit for the primo course and easy to make.  Last year I had fun with the antipasto course, and cooked up Sicilian and Sardinian-style stuffed calamari and stuffed fresh sardines — which, by the way, do not smell or taste “fishy” at all if you buy them fresh.  They were both a hit with young and old alike, so I present them here for your family to try.  I’ve also included a simple method for fresh fried calamari, complete with an Instagram video, as a well-known and well-loved family starter to any Italian-American meal.

Buon appetito e Buon Natale!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Calamari Sardinian Style

Ingredients
(Makes about 12 stuffed  calamari (squid)

12 squid with about 3″ sacs

Stuffing:
Tentacles from 6 squid, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, boned and preserved in olive oil
1 Tb and 1 tsp breadcrumbs (or more as desired)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Sauce:
olive oil
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can ( 8 oz.) Italian  chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine

Prepare the calamari:

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, and pat dry.

Make the stuffing and stuff the calamari:

Put all the stuffing ingredients into a bowl and mix lightly until all are blended.

Add a little olive oil if too dry or a little more breadcrumbs, as needed. The mixture should be soft and hold together when picked up with the hand.

Spoon the stuffing into the calamari bodies,  filling about 3/4 of each sac.  Close with a toothpick.

Squid bodies lined up, stuffed, and the open end closed with a toothpick
Stuffed calamari, closed with toothpicks.

 

Cook the calamari in tomato sauce: 

Use a large frying pan that can fit al the calamari.

Pour in enough olive oil to coat the pan and come slightly up the sides and heat to medium high.  Add the garlic cloves and cook until they are a golden brown and then remove.

Put in the stuffed squid and brown both sides.

Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stove.
Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stovetop.

Add chopped tomatoes and any juice from the can and the white wine.  Cook at slow boil to boil off the alcohol in the white wine, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook at a slow simmer until calamari are cooked through, an additional 30 – 45 minutes or more.  The cooking time with vary with the size of the calamari, so cut into the calamari to make sure it is cooked through and cook longer if needed.

Stuffed calamari cooking in tomato sauce in a frying pan on the stovetop
Stuffed calamari cooking with tomatoes on the stove top.

When the calamari have finished cooking,  remove the toothpicks and place each on a separate platter, covered with the sauce.

Serve very hot, with crusty Italian bread to mop up the sauce!

stuffed calamari in tomato sauce are in a serving platter on a festive Christmas tablecloth
Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce, cooked and ready to serve.

Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Fried Calamari 

Ingredients
Calamari (Squid), frozen or fresh
flour
olive oil
salt

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, but no need to pat dry.

Cut each calamari body into rings, dredge in flour and shake off excess flour. The flour alone will  cling to the damp calamari and make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil.

Heat oil about an inch deep in a large frying pan over medium heat. Do not let olive oil  get too hot or smoke. Test olive oil by dropping one  lightly floured calamari ring into the oil. The oil is hot enough when the calamari sizzles. Maintain olive oil at medium heat throughout the frying process, turning burner heat up or down as needed.

To fry the calamari, drop lightly floured calamari rings into the olive oil.  Fry in batches and do not crowd the pan.  Turn as needed to brown evenly.  Fry the calamari rings first, and then the tentacles.

When the calamari are a golden yellow color, remove the calamari from the oil with a slotted spoon.

Drain any excess oil from the fried calamari in a bowl lined with a paper towel, and then immediately transfer to the serving bowl and salt lightly.  Mix.

Bring your fried calamari right to the table and enjoy hot! .

 

View this post on Instagram

Italian Christmas Eve recipe: Easy Fried Calamari for your feast of the 7 fishes! Buy calamari already cut and cleaned. Rinse, take out any hard spine left in body and cut of fins. Cut body into circles, dredge in flour and shake odd excess flour. The flour alone will make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil. Heat oil over medium heat. It is hot enough when a piece drops in sizzles. Drain oil on paper towels, transfer to serving bowl and salt lightly. Then fry tentacles same way. Enjoy hot out of the frying pan. For more Italian fish dishes check out www.blog.learntravelitalian.com tomorrow Dec 15………………………….. #osnap #osnapmedia @niafitalianamerican @osia_su #italianchristmas #italianchristmaseve #italianchristmasfood #italianchristmasfoodtraditions #italianchristmasdinner #feastofthesevenfishes #sevenfishesfeast #sevenfishdinner #italianfishdinner #christmaseve2019 #christmaseve2019🎄 #christmaseve2019♥️ #christmaseve2019🎅🏻🌲🎉

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Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Sardines Sicilian Style 

Ingredients
(For about 10 fresh sardines)

About 10 fresh sardines
Stuffing:
1/2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup seedless, white raisins,  coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp sugar
3 salted anchovies,  boned and preserved in olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
pepper
Top with 2-3 bay leaves (fresh if possible), torn into pieces

Make the filling for the sardines:

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over moderate heat in a large frying pan and then add the breadcrumbs. Stir, cooking until breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and allow to cool a bit.

Add the yellow raisins, pine nuts, and sugar.

Rinse the anchovies until most of the salt has been removed.  Pat dry. Chop into small pieces and then add to the filling in the bowl.

Add 2 -3 grinds of freshly ground pepper,  parsley and onion.

Mix all ingredients together with  a spoon.  Pick up with your hand and see if mixture will hold together.  Add a few drops of olive oil if needed and mix with your hands until mixture holds together enough to be pressed into the sardines.

Clean, stuff, and cook the sardines:

Process the fresh sardines as follows: Rinse well.  Cut off the heads.  Rinse again.  Slit open the belly of each sardine lengthwise and pull out the intestines and rinse again.  Pull out the backbone.  Rinse in salted water and wipe dry. Split open and lay flat.

Fresh Sardines are slit open, cleaned and shown lying flat before stuffing
Fresh sardines cleaned, split open and ready to stuff.

 

Stuffing bowl and the center sardine open with stuffing in it.
Sardine with stuffing prior to closing.

Place a little bit of the stuffing into each sardine, then close and place into a shallow cooking pan coated with a bit of olive oil.

 

Sardines are stuffed, folded over and have been placed into a pan, ready to cook
Stuffed sardines ready to cook.

 

 

 

 

Tear the bay leaves into several pieces and sprinkle them over the sardines .

 

 

 

Bake in the oven at 375°until sardines are cooked through and filling has browned, about 30 minutes.

When the sardines have finished cooking, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve hot. Present them in their pan  with the juices or transfer to a separate plate.

Sardines in their pan, cooked and ready to serve
Stuffed sardines, cooked and ready to  serve.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars