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Dec 13, 2013 08:53 PM

OK folks...It's capocollo, not all the other misspellings and pronounciations

I'm an old curmudgeon who hates to see a beautiful language tortured. Altho I am not of Italian descent, my wife is of that ethnicity, and all my descendents at this time have Italian genes. For that reason I have been taking informal courses for several years to learn "La bella lingua italiana" because our eldest grandson decided to take a short course in Italian one summer when he was in high school. I thought that he would need someone with whom to speak the language, so I started to learn it. YES, I'VE BECOME A PEDANT.

While reading some of the posts in HOME COOKING, I've come across the misspellings, and I will probably get replies from those who grew up in families which mispronounced it. My in-laws called 'gabbagall.' Fortunately, I never corrected them. And, yes I've seen the misspellings in deli counter display cases when I buy the sausage.

Capocolla indicates what part of the pig the meat comes from that is used to make the cured sausage. Capo is the word for 'head' and collo is the word for 'neck.' Therefore those parts of the pig anatomy are traditionally used to produce the 'salsiccia.' All the other spellings which refer to this form of salumi (cured meats) are either dialectic or just plain incorrect.

I now will get off my soapbox, and end my perfectionist discourse.

Vivi, ama, ridi e specialmente mangia bene!

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  1. Which dialect is this 'capocollo/a' from?

    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      In Italy it is known as 'standard Italian' which spoken during newscasts and written in articles.

      1. re: ChiliDude

        So if "collO" is the only correct spelling, what explains the use of "collA" in your third paragraph? Confused.

        1. re: acgold7

          That was a typo to see if you were paying attention! Really I am so poor at proofreading my tirades.

      2. re: paulj

        But the mispronunciation is probably Southern. We say "Cab'" for head, like the Spanish cabeza...hence the cabba or gabbagu'


        Other Names
        Capocollo, loin, capicola, capacola, capacollo, capacolla, Calabrese capicola, Sicilian capicola, cabbagall, gabagool, coppa Piacentina, capocollo di Calabria, ham capocollo, capicollo, capicolla, capocollo della Basilicata, capocollo del Lazio, capocollo dell Umbria, capocollo tipico senese

        Il capocollo, noto anche come capicollo oppure coppa, è un salume che può essere non piccante (come la coppa di Parma) oppure piccante (come i capocolli calabresi e pugliesi).

        15 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            WOOWEE! Thanks for your input and for doing all that research. I hoped that some educated person would reply and evince all the incorrect spellings.

            1. re: ChiliDude

              I think you're putting words in paulj's mouth. He never said anything about any of the variant spellings being "incorrect".

              1. re: paulj

                I live in Italy (Milan) much of the year, and there it is known as coppa. Since so many food names in Italy are dialectic, often with very similar items having different names, it seems a bit silly to get too upset by a lack of "official purity" in usage. That being said, I do also get awfully tired of hearing "muzzarel" and "prozhut": it's one thing to hear words like these in Neapolitan dialect, it's another to hear them simply misprounced by americans, often descendants of immigrants who never spoke Italian (but only the local dialect) in the first place. Or by people who heard people, who......etc., etc.
                In Tuscany (the birthplace of official Italian) everyone I know says capicollo. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be officially capocollo.....

                1. re: swannee

                  It's harder than you think, though. I am part of that much-maligned group, the descendant of a grandmother who never spoke Italian but whose parents were from outside Naples; my grandfather was raised there. I grew up for the first 21 years of my life and everyone I knew said "muzzarel" or "prozhut" - I never even thought to say it differently until I had a boyfriend who tried to bully me into saying it "correctly" (he didn't last, as you may have guessed - his grandparents, by the way, were also from Italy, but his family had done everything they could to avoid those associations; this all makes me think as well, that there might be a class element at play, in that my family were factory folk, while his owned business and became quite wealthy here). To this day, over 20 years later, I still feel like an imposter if I say mozzarella like I am apparently supposed to.

                  1. re: Cachetes

                    It may be that I opened up a can of worms when originally posted this topic. "I miei antenati non erano italiani." All of my descendants have genes from other Italian grandparents, me being the exception. My romance with the Italian language started when our 1st grandson, now 26 years old, decided to take a short course at a local community college in the language during the summer between his junior and senior years in high school.

                    I'm still learning the language in classes after starting to learn it 7 years ago for his sake. None of his currently close relatives speak the language, and I thought it was incumbent on me to do so because he may have needed someone with whom to speak it.

                    When his teacher asked him "Where did your people come from?", his mother, our daughter, told him to call me. I am able to give this information about my wife's maternal and paternal grandparents as to town, province and region to him.

                    So now you may be able to understand my pedantic loyalty to 'standard Italian or proper Italian.'

                    While in Italy 3 years ago, I spoke as much Italian as I could, and the people there appreciated my attempts to speak their language instead of expecting them to speak mine. In fact, on one occasion while in Rome and having a meal at small family restaurant, 2 couples sitting at a table next to ours, struck up a conversation with me. They spoke no American (I don't speak English). 'Twas a great conversation with strangers in Rome.

                    BTW...Buona vigilia di Natale, buon Natale e buon anno.

                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      The love of languages is always a great thing, and your post shows us the wonders of using food to think about culture. To respond in my adopted language (due to my husband's family): Feliz Navidad!

                      1. re: Cachetes

                        I also created this posting due to my adoption of the language of my wife's ancestors. Little did I think that the post would cause such controversy. Of course, I realize that each little Italian community has its own dialect. However, the Italians hear standard Italian spoken on TV news, and read it in newspaper articles.

                        An email friend who lives in Genoa sends me news articles. A couple of years ago he sent one that indicated that only 20% of the people of Calabria speak standard Italian.

                        1. re: ChiliDude

                          From what I've always understood ( I took Italian in high school and college, but am far from fluent) every province, or maybe even many of the towns, were separate entities back before Italy became a united country. So each one's dialect is correct for their area. There is not really a "correct" Italian, unless you mean like British BBC, which no one really speaks in real life?

                          1. re: coll

                            And some argue that there isn't such a thing as 'Italian cooking', but rather 20 (or more) regional cuisines


                            1. re: paulj

                              The regions are fairly recent political constructs and are very convenient for cookbook editors, who can then divide books conveniently into 20 chapters. The historical divisions of Italy do not correspond exactly to the regions, and thus dishes are attributed to, say, Lazio, when they historically belong to Abruzzo. What matters is not what political entity the dish came from but the geophysical or ethnic situation. Lazio, Abruzzo -- it's the Apennines that matter. Northern Tuscany has more in common with Liguria than with Florence. Southern Lazio (the Pontina) has much in common with Campania (the Kingdom of Naples began at Terracina), with some infusions of Veneto that came with the workers who helped drain the Pontine Marshes.

                              It is certainly convenient to talk about regional cooking in Italy, and everyone does, but the real gastronomic divisions are both much smaller -- valleys, towns, neighborhoods -- and larger, if we think of, say, grano duro and grano tenero in terms of their geographic distribution.

                    2. re: Cachetes

                      I grew up next door to an Italian neighborhood, had friends with moms, dads, and grandparents as first or second gen. I've always pronounced some words as you do: "muzzarel", prozhut" and also "mannighaut" (which is known as manicotti on menus.) For me to say manicotti sounds bizarre and foreign. Like an computer using a voice program.

                      My family background is, by the way, Scot/Irish/Fin/Swede - and I love my family's dishes.

                      However, I'll never forget how wonderful the food was eating dinner at my friend's houses! Unbelievably good, and they were all in the restaurant industry so I was so impressed as a youth.

                      I love it all.

                      1. re: breadchick

                        I grew up in an Italian family/neighborhood and it took me a while to figure out that the pronunciations you report are really transplanted Neapolitan ones--the speech of Naples and its surrounding region very often swallows final vowels and some syllables, even today. One famous example is "guaglione", or the Neapolitan word for yong boy/kid, most often pronounced (phonetically, more or less) "walyo", which, some claim, became shortened into the big city salutation "yo".

                    3. re: swannee

                      "That being said, I do also get awfully tired of hearing 'muzzarel' and 'prozhut'"

                      hmm...I have a hard time not saying "prozhut," as the Slavs I grew up with/around said it. In fact, it's even spelled pršut. :) Hope I get a pass at the market and restaurants!

                    1. re: WishyFish

                      Some deli tried to sell him hot butt cappy! :)

                      1. re: paulj

                        I've also heard that term used at a supermarket deli counter about 2 decades ago. I'd forgotten about that. That may be due to the fact that the supermarket chain has been out of business for more than 8 years.

                    2. Yo, Chilidude, I'm with you, but, given the reaction to the suggestion that panino might be used as the singular of panini some weeks ago, I'd advise you to choose your battles. Capocollo is indeed correct standard Italian, but there are so many variations in Italy itself (as opposed to panino/i or the meaning of latte, which all Italians agree on), that I don't see any future in defending the standard usage. I will say this: as far as I know, coppa is not the same as capocollo. I know this because I don't like coppa and do like capocollo. But there may be local variations I don't know about.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mbfant

                        I hear ya! As I said I'm an old curmudeon. I've retired for 15 years as of last September. I have time to raise hell online. There are so many varied dialects in Italy that people from neighboring towns have difficulty understanding each other.

                        My father-in-laws parents could not communicate with my mother-in-laws because they came from neighboring regions where the dialects were different.

                        I often ask people of Italian heritage if they know what a dish is that my mother-in-law made on Christmas Eve when Catholics were required to 'fast.' So far no one that I asked has come up with the name of the dish in standard Italian.

                        I would spell it as 'ughi ha' since I have never seen it written down. Phonetically I would pronounce it as 'ooghi ah.' This pronuciation originated from Petilia Policastro in the province of Catanzaro (before 1996) now Crotone in the region of Calabria.

                        In standard Italian it is 'olio e aglio.' It's garlic sauteed in olive oil which poured over spaghetti.

                        1. re: ChiliDude

                          In my haste to post the reply to mbfant, I made a few syntax blunders. I'm known for my poor editing of messages that I send. There are some commas missing as well as a word or 2.

                          1. re: ChiliDude

                            So how do you feel about using non-English words, like "ya", "father-in-laws" and "mother-in-laws"? Is it okay to get other languages wrong, just not Italian?

                        2. As far as I can figure, probably don't have a single DROP of Italian blood in my family tree. Personally, find it a little silly for a non-Italian to put their verion of the pronunciation on Italian food items... parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, etc.