Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Word of the week: cuocere

Italian has two words for our verb "to cook": cuocere (KWO-che-reh) and cucinare (coo-chee-NAH-reh). What is the difference? The first means to cook in the sense of applying heat, thus, the man in the figure above sta cuocendo il pesce (is cooking fish). The past participle of cuocere is cotto (cooked, as opposed to raw). What we call prosciutto in the US is called prosciutto crudo (raw ham), or sometimes simply crudo, in Italy, whereas prosciutto cotto means "cooked ham." The word cuoco, cook or chef, derives from this verb.

Cucinare means to cook in the sense of preparing food to eat. Hence you would say: "sai cucinare?" to ask someone if they know how to cook. The past participle of cucinare is cucinato. The word cucina derives from this verb, and means both kitchen and cuisine.