Feast and Phrase

Gastronomy in the world of words.

Month: April 2016

1st Birthday

Happy First Birthday, Feast and Phrase!

Cliché time: I can’t believe one year has shot by! How strange to be celebrating the first birthday of Feast and Phrase!

I’ve gone from words for orange fruit and World War Two slogans to fur-trapper food and names for pasta shapes. Thank you to everyone who has read and shared posts! Family and friends have been very supportive, as has the online community – many thanks to bloggers like Shannon Selin and H. D. Miller for their encouraging words!

A special thank you to a former colleague of mine who, on seeing that I brought lots of weird and wonderful lunches into work, suggested, ‘You should write about food. Start a blog – no, seriously!’ And here we are!

Time to complete the First Birthday Countdown of the ten most-read posts from Year One:

10. Benjamin Franklin on Food

Franklin Duplessis

9. Remembering Food Slogans on VE Day

INF3-101_Food_Production_Lend_a_hand_with_the_potato_harvest_(workers_in_basket) 511px

8. Waterloo 200: Wellingtons and Napoleons

Wellington and Napoleon 2

7. A Tonka Bean Mystery

Tonka Beans

6. Wine in the Rubáiyát


5. Broccoli Phobia and Inside Out

Mindy Kaling Disgust Inside Out

4. Nixtamalization: Aztecs and Ash


3. Waterloo 200: Battlefield Victuals


2. My Darling Clementine. Mandarin. Orange. HELP.

Featured Image

And the most-read post from Year One is…

1. A Bite of Bunny Chow

Bunnymans Bunnychow

Roll on Year Two!




Ten More Pasta Shapes

Following up from last week’s look at ten pasta shapes and the meanings behind their names, here are ten more pasta shapes to complete the list!


PappardelleImage from Flickr user Alpha.

These broad ribbons of pasta are often served with heavy sauces, and the name is said to fittingly derive from the Italian pappare: ‘to gobble’, or ‘to stuff oneself’. Or as we say here on the Internet (and in general life), ‘Nom, nom, nom’.


PenneImage from Pixabay. The featured image for this article is from Flickr user Christian Cable.

Easily one of the most popular pasta shapes, ‘penne’ is the plural form of the Italian penna, meaning ‘quill’, ‘feather’, and (not surprisingly) ‘pen’. Would it be possible to dip penne pasta pieces in ink and write with them?


RavioliImage from Pixabay.

This one is slightly tricky. John Ayto suggests in his Diner’s Dictionary that the term is the diminutive or ‘small’ form of the Italian rava (‘turnip). ‘Ravioli’ would therefore translate as ‘little turnips’ and may have originally referred to some sort of small meat and turnip pie. It might also come from rabiole, which in the dialect of the Italian city Genoa means ‘leftovers’ or ‘bits and bobs’.


RigatoniImage from Flickr user jeffreyw.

These lined pasta tubes take their name from the Italian verb rigare, meaning ‘to score’ or ‘to groove’ (no, not musically).


RotelleImage from Wikimedia Commons.

‘Small wheels’ is the translation of this Italian name, though this Pasta Shapes Dictionary (there’s a dictionary for everything, isn’t there?) gives it as ‘Wagon Wheels’, which reminds me of a certain lunchbox snack…


SpaghettiImage from Pixabay.

We’ve had little tongues, little ears, little turnips, and little wheels. Now we have ‘little strings’ or ‘thin strings’, from the Italian spago, meaning ‘string’. The word ‘spaghetti’ may bring up many fond and delicious memories for most of you, but all I remember is Kevin Malone’s suggestion from the US hit show, The Office.


StrozzapretiImage from Flickr user fugzu.

Fancy eating some ‘choke-priest’ pasta? In different parts of Italy, it is also known as strangoloprevete and also strangugliaprieviti, both of which make the dark meaning slightly clearer (or at least the strangling part). Quite how this variety of pasta got its name is a mystery. One suggestion is that priests had a reputation for being fast-eating gluttons, but had difficulty getting this pasta down and choked. A less sinister explanation is that it refers to the shape of the priests’ collars (which were presumably a little tight).


TagliatelleImage from Flickr user Markus Reinhardt.

More ribbons – this time deriving their name from the Italian verb tagliare: ‘to cut’.


TortelloniThis is mushroom and truffle tortelloni. Image from the Flickr account of Restaurant Alexander Den Haag

Five-minute tortelloni was a household staple during exam time at university, and I tried just about every type available at the supermarket. What’s the difference to tortellini? Both have the same basic shape, but tortelloni is larger and generally has vegetarian fillings, while tortellini is smaller and usually has meat fillings.

I should probably have mentioned this near the start, but the ‘-ini’ ending refers to a smaller variety of pasta, while ‘-oni’ refers to a bigger variety!

As for the name, it comes from tortello, meaning ‘small cake or fritter’ (torta is ‘cake’). So technically speaking, tortellini is a ‘small small cake’, and tortelloni is a ‘large small cake’. My brain hurts now.


VermicelliI don’t think this was the image you were expecting. Nom, nom, nom? No, no, no. Image from Flickr user Allan Henderson

Finishing the list and continuing the trend of little things, vermicelli is ‘little worms’. You know who ate worms thinking they were pasta? Mr Twit, that’s who. Except he thought he was just eating spaghetti.

There you have it: ten more pasta shapes and the meanings behind their names. And if you’ve been traumatised by that ‘vermicelli’ image, maybe some spaghetti?

Spaghetti 2Image from Pixabay.

Much better.


Ten Pasta Shapes

For many, pasta shapes and sauce pairings are something to be religiously observed, while others throw all rules out of the window because they ‘haven’t tried the ones that look like bowties and really want to’. Some people are proud penne-lovers, while others will swear by spaghetti.

Whatever your preference, there are said to be some 350 different varieties of pasta from which to choose should you wish to mix things up a bit (to be honest, I imagined there would be more). Here are ten different pasta shapes and the meanings behind their names.


CannelloniImage from Flickr user Francis Bijl.

If I asked to you say the first phrase that popped into your head when I said ‘cannelloni’, there’s a good chance it would be ‘spinach and ricotta’. ‘Tube’ is a much less likely answer, though this is actually what the name means. These ‘large tubes’ of pasta ultimately take their name from the Latin canna, meaning ‘tube’ or ‘reed’, which is also the source for the English words ‘canyon’ and the military ‘cannon’.


ConchiglieImage from Flickr user The Marmot.

This ‘shell’- or ‘conch shell’-shaped pasta works very well in soups, or when stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. It’s also a lot less crunchy than real shells. Assuming you cook it properly. I don’t eat shells. No, really.


FarfalleImage from Pixabay.

While shaped like bowties, ‘farfalle’ is actually the plural form of the Italian farfalla, meaning ‘butterfly’. This word can be used to refer to actual bowties in the same language, though Italians also call the bowtie a papillon, which is the French word for a butterfly.


fusilli-747030_1920Image from Pixabay.

In Italian, a fuso is a ‘spindle’. ‘Fusilli’ are ‘little spindles’. Probably my personal favourite on the list (to eat!).


Gemelli (2)Image from Flickr user Mercury Jane.

Shaped like two identical strands twined together, ‘gemelli’ pasta appropriately takes its name from the Italian for ‘twins’.


LasagneImage from Flickr user Lachlan Donald.

In Italian, lasagna refers to the type of pasta, while the plural form lasagne refers to the dish made with multiple lasagne sheets. The name derives from the Roman ‘cooking pot’ known as a lasanum; this coming from the Greek lasanon – a ‘pot with feet’. It has also been suggested that lasanon meant ‘chamber pot’. I’m not sure Garfield would approve.


LinguineImage from Flickr user digipam.

Lingua means tongue – ‘linguine’ are ‘little tongues’. Not the most appetising image!


macaroni-911164_1920Image from Pixabay.

Back to Greek for the ultimate origin of this word: makaria means ‘food made from barley’. In the 18th century, ‘macaroni’ was used as a term for fashion-conscious young men who copied European styles and trends, which included eating the dish of the same name – then seen as appealingly foreign. ‘Yankee Doodle’ started out as a British song mocking colonial Americans for being badly dressed simpletons (or ‘doodles’). Sticking a feather in a hat and calling it ‘macaroni’ can be interpreted as a poor attempt at imitating the style of Britain’s macaronis.


OrecchietteImage from Flickr user Caspar Diederik.

Continuing the theme of body parts, ‘orecchiette’ means ‘little ears’. Mix them with your linguine and you’re one step closer to an edible face. Don’t eat real people’s faces. That’s cannibalism.


OrzoImage from Flickr user culinarycara.

Orzo is the pasta-doppelganger of rice. But the name is from the Italian for ‘barley’. Whaaat?! (I guess it is also shaped like barley grains.)

That confusion may have been too much to handle, so we’ll take a break for now.
Ten more pasta shapes coming your way next week!

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