Italian has a bunch of boobytraps to trick unsuspecting foreigners like myself into making massive twats out of themselves. For instance, a lot of words will come in twin pairs: one masculine version, often ending in -o, and one feminine version, often ending in -a. The words will be identical except for the final vowel and they’ll have a completely different meaning, which means that, at times, they can be difficult to keep apart. An innocent example: il foglio is a sheet of paper, whilst la foglia is a leaf.
This wouldn’t be much of a problem if Italian wasn’t rife with obscenities and seemingly common words that are secretly also euphemisms for genitals of either gender. For instance, when I was still staying in Genova a few years ago, I told a friend that I couldn’t leave the house because the tit over our kitchen was leaking and I had to keep emptying buckets to stop the kitchen from flooding. I had meant the roof, il tetto. Instead I’d said la tetta. Just two letters off, different story altogether.
That one was funny, at least. It becomes embarrassing when you’re talking to people outside your immediate circle of friends. Imagine, for example, my horror when I tried to explain to the father of a friend what the whole story was with the Dutch and their clogs, but I actually told him about the Dutch and their sluts. It seems far-fetched, but with la zoccola I was really only 1 letter off lo zoccolo, which is how you say clog in Italian.
And then of course there was that time that I accidentally came out as a lesbian. I was just talking about food with a friend, and I mentioned I really liked figs with parma ham, or so I thought. What I said was “you take una fica and you roll it up in prosciutto crudo and it’s delicious!” I’ll leave you to guess what part of the female body Italians call la fica.
Anyway, I really do love
fiche FICHI, fichI dammit, with dry-cured ham, so let’s have a shot at that, shall we? Fichi col prosciutto crudo, or figs with dry-cured ham. It’s similar to melon with ham, but better.
As an antipasto, or small starter, for two, use the following:
- one fig per person
- about 100 gr of dry-cured ham, I used San Daniele, but use whichever
- some fresh rocket
- some olive oil
- some balsamic vinegar
Slice your figs in wedges. In the picture there’s four piece on each plate but I actually prefer to divide the figs up in sixths – better fig/ham ratio that way. Roll each wedge up in a slice of ham.
Take some small plates and put a handful of rocket on each. Drizzle with some good olive oil, the arrange the fig wedges on top. Now drizzle the whole bunch with some balsamic vinegar and you’re ready to go!