Called Roman Garlic Bread by the Italian cooking authority, Marcella
Hazan, bruschettahas become ubiquitous on dinner menus as a
"starter". It has been adopted as an American food and is as
widely available as pizza, although much more often mispelled and
Americans have never gotten the hang of the apparent Italian reversal
of hard and soft 'c' sounds and so they put a soft 'sh' in my name,
Chiaravalloti, and in bruschetta.
Both my name and the
appetizer are prounounced with a hard K sound. "Brew sket ta"
and "key are a", respectively. Since many Americans can't help
but mispronounce bruschetta, a good many menus have begun to
mispell it to match. Brush-etta is one I have seen more than once,
leaving no doubt that the customer and serving staff don't say "brew
sketta". That linguistic battle is probably lost and the final
triumph will probably come when Tuscan waiters ask Americans if they
would like an order of "brush-etta" instead of the once traditional
"grissini", which are now made soft and given away with pizza (can I
serve you a roll and butter with that sandwich?). They will
continue to pronounce it properly when waiting on Germans and Italians
(they can tell the difference). The better dressed foreigner is
probably German and will be greeted with a Guten Tag or even a Grüss Gott.
Bruschetta is grilled bread, usually
rubbed while still hot with a split clove of garlic, drizzeled with a
top quality olive oil, and sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt.
"Toppings" seem to be an American addition, and anything more
that some chopped ripe tomatoes with a little basil is suspect.
Which brings me to the point of this screed:
My latest issue of the Penzey's Spice
Catalog (I use their spices myself, and have the highest respect for
their integrity, quality, and freshness) included a recipe for bruschetta in which the topping had become the thing
topped! The recipe was not for how to grill the bread, rub it
with garlic, and drizzle it with oil. The recipe was for
"toppings". Then it said to take some bread and dip it in the bruschetta or to spoon some of the bruschetta over the bread. That's kind of like dipping your coffee in
your doughnut! They've got the whole thing backwards! Bruschetta, mispronounced, or not, has become a variety
As Marcella said so well, Italians may
not all know how to cook, but they all know how to eat.
Sometimes, sad to say, Americans seem to have forgotten both
Here is a good recipe: