Daily Archives: May 5, 2009

radicchio

This word doesn’t refer to a character from the Commedia dell’Arte, nor to a Pinocchio made from a radish. However, it is related to radish – both words trace back to Latin radix “root”, this one by way of the diminutive radicula. Which in its own turn is not a vampire vegetable, even though radicchio is red, with white veins. This word, when it first hit English, was certainly the province of people who really could not avoid sounding pretentious and/or faddish in matters gastronomic (unless they were Italian). To some ears it may still seem thus. But overtones of radical may help it be a bit more racy, as long as the icchi doesn’t sound too “icky”. The printed word, to look at it, may not call to mind Italian chicory – though it at least ought to call to mind Italian – but it does have a certain neatness about it, with the di and hi like gates or bedposts or perhaps garden stakes, and the little round letters packed in and around filling it up, resembling radishes more than a leafy green, I mean red. But at least the c‘s and the a have the curliness of the plant, and you could, with a bit of focus, take them for leaves and the di and hi as salad tongs…