Ten Italian dishes with truly disgusting names

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Mule testicles, anyone? Photo: Umbria Lovers/Flickr
14:44 CEST+02:00
What's in a name? From 'mule testicles' to 'priest-chokers', Italy is full of foods with confusingly off-putting names. Here The Local lists ten of the most revolting examples.

1. Vermicelli - Measuring between 2.08 and 2.14 millimetres in diameter - only slightly wider than spaghetti - this pasta means "little worms" in Italian. You don't really need to use your imagination to figure out why. But don't let the name put you off. Vermicelli can be delicious, especially when served in a puttanesca sauce (see below).

Photo: judywitts/Flickr

2. Spaghetti alla puttanesca - This pasta dish consisting of anchovies, olives and tomatoes translates literally as "spaghetti in whore's style". What on earth does it have to do with prostitutes, you ask. There are several stories about how the dish got its saucy name. The only thing that is certain is that its origins are fairly recent.     

Photo: nishidaryuichi/Wikicommons

3. Strozzapreti - Another pasta shape with an odd name is strozzapreti, which translates as “priest chokers”. Several tales account for the etymology of the pasta, the most enjoyable being that gluttonous priests used to gorge themselves on it until some of them, quite literally, choked to death.

Photo: fugzu/Flickr

4. Salame di Felino - No need to panic, cat lovers. Yes, technically this does mean "feline salami" but Felino also happens to be a charming town in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna where they make excellent salami. 

Photo: Basilicofresco/Wikicommons

5. Calzone - These spherical folded pizza slices are popular around the world, but did you know what the word means in Italian? In Italian a calzone means a "stocking" or a "trouser leg". Still hungry?  

Photo: I, Calcagnile Floriano/Wikicommons

6. Linguine - A steaming dish of "little tongues"? Yes please. Spaghetti's odd cousin gets its name from its elliptical shape that resembles a tongue. Originally from the port city of Genoa, the pasta is great with pesto or seafood.

Photo: Michele Ursino/Flickr

7. Palle del nonno - The name of this Umbrian salami, which translates literally as "grandpa's balls", doesn't exactly set one's mouth watering. Fortunately, no grandfathers were harmed in the making of the salami and it's made from 100 percent pork.   

Photo: Umbria Lovers/Flickr

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8. Coglioni di mulo - Noticing a theme here? This salami goes by the name of "mule's balls" owing to it's slightly scrotum-esque shape that is somewhere between a cylinder and an orb. The name is not only disgusting, it's misleading too: much like grandpa's balls, mules balls are made from 100 percent pork.

Photo: Florixc/Wikicommons

9. Barba di frate - "Friar's beard" is another name for agretti, a wiry Italian green that is all the rage among top chefs at the moment. The reason for its popularity is simple: tossed in a pan with some butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice the stringy veg is way more succulent than its name suggests. 

Photo: F Ceragioli/Wikicommons

10. Orrechiette - How about a plate of "little ears"? That's what the name of the flat disk-shaped pasta from the southern region of Puglia means. They do kind of resemble small ears too, although if your ears actually do look like orrechiette you probably have a problem you might want to see a doctor about.

Photo: Foodista/Wikicommons

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