Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Word of the week- mezzaluna

I have been enmeshed in a gastronomical-astronomical quandary for days now. If not weeks.

In using a mezzaluna to chop herbs, it occurred to me for the first time that the mezzaluna chopper literally means "half moon," but it is actually a crescent.

Having mild pedantic leanings, this of course disturbed me. Because a mezzaluna actually looks like this (below).

A crescent moon is actually a (luna) crescente. What is worse, the Italians use the improper mezzaluna for other things as well; for example, the symbol of Islam. They also refuse, unlike the French, to call a croissant a crescente. Which is its exact equivalent in French. Both are gerund forms of the verb to grow i.e. growing (moon).

The Italians call a croissant a cornetto (little horn). If you ask me, they have made an appalling mess of this half moon business.