stracciatella

Ah, you can see this is a nice, lovely, long Italian word. Look at those two c’s (with an i after, at that), and those parallel l’s, sort of like skis to go with the boots of the c’s. It has three a’s dispersed in it, one of which at the end. It looks extra yummy because it ends like Nutella – and, you know, those c’s kinda look like hazelnut shells too, when you think of it. Hmm, it does have a sort of shellish brittleness. Ah, what could this be?

Well, it’s an Italian word borrowed unaltered into English, so the odds are excellent that it’s to do with either music or food. You could certainly sing it – hold that double l extra long, stretch it out. But you can taste it so deliciously on your tongue, too: the opening /stra/ with the /r/ properly trilled, the long affricate – in Italian you say it like not “stra-cha” but “strat-cha” – and then to the tap and luscious lick, and all on the tip of the tongue. It’s not such a stretch, to tell the truth, to see it as a word for some kind of food.

But what food? Not pasta; that’s usually pluralized: tagliatelle, not tagliatella. Hmm. Maybe a kind of gelato (or ice cream)? Or perhaps a type of soup? Maybe an extract of some sort?

Yes. Yes. And, in one way of seeing it, yes.

Stracciatella is a kind of gelato yes. It’s vanilla with little shavings of chocolate in it. Like chocolate chip, but less chunky.

Stracciatella is also a kind of soup. It’s an Italian egg drop soup. The eggs are beaten with cheese and seasonings and then dropped into the soup and whisked in, so they float around in little shreds.

Always make sure you’re clear which one you’re ordering, but there will probably be few cases of possible confusion.

Here’s a tip about Italian words: if you see a stra at the beginning, it probably comes from Latin extra. So is this gelato or soup extra something? Hmm, well, not exactly; in this case the extra is extracted out of context – from extractare, which is ex plus tractare. That word – meaning ‘pull out’ – is the root, of course, of English extract, but also of Italian stracciare, ‘tear up, rip up, shred’. (Incidentally, neither shred nor stretch is etymologically related to this word.) And stracciare is the source of stracciatella, which names a soup with shreds of egg in it or a gelato with shreds of chocolate.

Now go eat something. I know you’re hungry. Italian does that to me too. Maybe that’s why people are always eating in Italian movies.

One response to “stracciatella

  1. Enrica (from Italy)

    To complete your already great post, I must add that stracciatella also refer to some kind of Italian cheese–which, consistently with the etymology, is made of shredded, torn pieces of mozzarella and cream.

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