or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So we had lunch today at Quizno's, the very essence of subly sublimity, and as always I had a chicken carbonara (no vegetarians in this house).

I am not as big a fan of the corporate d├ęcor, though.

There are three big murals plastered on the walls of the local outlet (the other location in town, which closed a couple of years ago, had different artwork). One of them depicts a chef and a big wheel of cheese and reads "Formaggio fantastico", which is, to the best of my knowledge, impeccable Italian. (It means "great cheese".) Another shows a rather abstract salad with a grinning spoon and fork, and reads "Salad spectacolo". Well, that's not Italian! "Salad" in Italian is "insalata", and "spectacular" would be, I think, "spettacolare", with the usual masculine suffix, though I don't speak Italian (Google Translate as usual is no help in this regard). I think they could have used the proper Italian wording and still be understood; it would have been better than some fake, bastardized language.

But my real scorn is reserved for the third mural, which depicts a freshly baked loaf of bread (with steam rising from it forming the word "toasty" dwarfing a tiny, pleased-looking chef, as well he might look after having successfully baked such an enormous object. The legend under the bread is "Pane di toasty", and this absolutely will not do.

The preposition "di" in that context is exactly parallel to French "de": it functions like English "of" in such phrases as "man of steel" or "heart of glass". That is to say that, when yoked to another noun, the preposition forms a phrasal adjective, but the key is that it must precede a noun.

"Toasty" is not a noun.

"Pane" means "bread" in Italian. You can say "toasty bread" or (I hope) "pane tostata", or "bread of toastiness" (I daren't attempt that in Italian), but you cannot say, in English or Italian or any admixture thereof, "bread of toasty". Those are the rules.


Oh, and that reminds me of something else I wanted to tell you.

The second-best ever episode of Futurama is called "Hell is Other Robots", and it contains a really top-notch song which contains these lines:

Cigars are evil
You won't miss 'em
We'll find ways to simulate that smell
What a sorry fella
Rolled up and smoked like a panatella
Here on level one of Robot Hell.

You can hear the whole song here: sorry for the general crappiness of the reproduction, but Fox seems to have litigiously purged all the decent ones. (You can hear an acoustically better version of the song, but without the accompanying visuals: there should be at least a couple of links on the above page.)

Anyway, I was wondering where "panatella" might have come from, so Jim looked it up, and guess what? It's a diminutive of "pane", so basically a panatella--a long slender cigar--is nicknamed a breadstick, which I love.

That etymology is not precisely, one hundred per cent true, mind you. Spanish got their word for bread, "pan", from Italian, but the American Spanish word "panatela" means not a breadstick but a long, thin biscuit; this is what gave the cigar its name. (And the Italian word for "breadstick" is "grissino", which you might have noticed, if you are Canadian, in altered form as the trade name of a commercial variety of breadsticks, Grissol.) But, never having seen one of these attenuated Spanish biscuits, I am forever going to think of a panatella cigar as a smokeable breadstick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude, you are a tool. get a life. nobody gives a shit about what you think. i cant believe this page came up when i typed in "pane di toasty"

Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:22:00 AM  

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