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Pronouncing Pancetta (and Cooking Well)

What is the correct (Italian) pronunciation of pancetta? Could you ask one of your Italian staff, and transliterate it into some kind of pseudo-phonetic English? I am a language-sensitive person, and like to impress my dinner guests with the correct pronunciation. I think (wishfully, perhaps) it may help me gain an edge as they are forming their opinion of the cuisine I serve.

Was is not Coco Chanel who said, "Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman"? We can't quite come up with it, but there is some relevant paraphrase here that involves cooking brilliantly and them noticing you in all your glory; cooking less well and them noticing the flaws (no matter how brilliantly you pronounce the ingredient names).

Doggone it!, we want both great cooking and brilliant pronunciation.

Pancetta is not a particularly challenging Italian word the only rough spots are the C and the double T. When a C is followed by an E or an I in Italian, it pronounced like our CH. Double consonants in Italian are pronounced more forcefully than single consonants (and any consonant other than H can be doubled*), and the double T means the stop for the consonant is stronger than it would be if there were a single T.

Our transliteration looks like this: pan-cheh'-tuh.

It is almost as if there's a pregnant pause at the end of the second syllable, with your tongue suspended in the middle of your mouth, just waiting for the double T of the third syllable. We don't know how to write that.

Again, if you ever listen to Giada De Laurentiis or Mario Batali on the Food Network, they wring every ounce every milligram of Italianness out of their words. And they refer to pancetta ten or twenty times every show (no matter what they're cooking), so you should have ample opportunity to hear it in all its glory.

Now that you've spent 1 minute and 16 seconds working on your pronunciation, it's time to get back to that all-important cooking!

*We must remember that J, K, W, X, and Y do not exist in Italian words (though they may show up in foreign words that have been borrowed by Italian).

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How to Pronounce Pancetta
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