With the intense influx of sweet, juicy tomatoes we see this time of year, farm-to-table restaurants and home gardeners alike start looking for ways to quickly use up their harvest. One great way to do that is by making a delicious, brightly flavored antipasto—a toasted slice of bread rubbed with garlic, generally topped with fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, and salt. But before you ask your waiter to bring you a plate of it or invite friends to join you at home for this Italian staple, you may want to make sure you’re pronouncing it right.
Despite the popularity of this dish, bruschetta has been causing pronunciation difficulties for English speakers for a long time. If you’re struggling to confidently navigate these tricky syllables, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you all the etymological and cultural insights you need to master the pronunciation of bruschetta from here on out.
If you’ve ever visited an Italian restaurant with a group of friends or family, you’ve probably had this dish before—and heard different members of your party pronounce it, with equal conviction, at least two different ways. While there are other common mispronunciations, the most pervasive one in English-speaking countries is used by an estimated 66% of the population according to a popular BuzzFeed poll. What’s this pervasive mispronunciation, you ask?
While the 34% of English-speaking individuals who pronounce this word correctly are smaller in number, they are a loud and ferocious group, barking corrections whenever possible to boost their numbers. This mispronunciation is incorrect because it fundamentally overlooks the phonetic rules of its mother language. So what is the history and etymology of bruschetta and what can that teach us about its pronunciation?
Bruschetta’s Origin Story and Etymology
Although it’s difficult to give bruschetta a specific date or location of origin, it’s safe to assume the first bruschetta—simply bread and olive oil—was made many centuries ago when the ancient Romans traveled across the Mediterranean sea with minimal ingredients. The ingredient that we consider central to the dish, tomato, likely wasn’t introduced until the 16th Century. Since the dish uses very basic ingredients, and the moisture of the topping would have rejuvenated the toasted bread that had gone stale, it’s believed bruschetta was originally a food for the poor.
The word bruschetta is from the Tuscan dialect of Italian and describes bread that has been roasted on both sides, topped with olive oil and garlic. Bruschetta is derived from the word bruscare, meaning “to toast.”
To pronounce this word correctly we must remember the Italian origins: bru-sket-tah. While many Americans soften the middle syllable to a “shh” sound, the ch is said as a k in Italian. Note also that the double t extends the sound slightly, reflected both at the end of the second syllable and the beginning of the third.
Now you’re ready to confidently take on the word bruschetta! Consider playing with a diverse array of toppings at home, or order the classic at an Italian restaurant!