Che cavolo!

Since I live abroad people have often made me notice that Italians use to swear a lot, even when they are not angry at all!

Indeed in Northern European countries it is considered extremely impolite to speak with “bad words” unless you want to be judged as a complete barbarian… But in Italy cursing has lost most of its importance and is now commonly used among all ranks. In some way it can be compared to a peculiarity that is wholly Italian: gesticulating. Both characteristics are ways to accentuate what we are saying, and give more credibility to what we are arguing. Actually we can even use it to intimidate others…and last but not least: cursing helps to free our animal instinct!

If you happen to come to Italy but do not feel too confident (yet) with using words like vaffanculo, cazzo, or stronzo than there are lighter alternatives to convey the idea. One of those you can always count on is: Che cavolo! Literally meaning “what the cauliflower!” but actually a polite way of saying “what the f**k!”

However if you happen to be in an Italian restaurant and you see the cavolo on the menu, don’t be surprised, cauliflower can be a delicious ingredient for many dishes. In Southern Italy we use to prepare it with pasta. It is a quick, healthy, and cheap meal. Also the ingredients can be easily found in any supermarket. Pasta e cavolo is a typical winter dish that is yummy in the coldest time of the year. Try it with orecchiette pasta to give it a characteristic Italian taste.

Pasta e cavolo (4 persons)

  • 500gr. Orecchiette pasta
  • 200gr. Pancetta (bacon)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cauliflower
  • Grated cheese
  • Pepper to taste

Take the cauliflower and slice it into four parts. Next, slice the thickest part of the core away from each quarter. You can either discard the core and thicker stems, or slice them thinly and cook them along with the florets. Now just pull the florets apart with your fingers.

Wash all pieces carefully and cook them in salty water.

Meanwhile mince the garlic finely. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the garlic and pancetta. Cook them until they are fragrant and turn off the fire.

When the cauliflower is almost cooked add the orecchiette to the water

and  when they are al dente (by tasting) drain them into a colander placed into your kitchen sink.

Lift the colander and make sure you shake off all excess water. Toss orecchiette and cauliflower with the pancetta and oil in a large bowl.

Serve it hot with some cheese and pepper on top.

Buon appetito!

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