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Who in Blazes is Al Dente, Anyway?

If my friends knew I was asking this, they would make fun of me until the end of time, but what does al dente mean?

Your secret is safe with us RAMONA in Englewood (don't worry, there are probably lots of Ramonas in Englewood, just as there are Englewoods in Colorado, Kansas, NEW JERSEY, Tennessee and British Columbia). Your friends will never know.

Al dente is an Italian expression that literally means "to the tooth," and refers to food that hasn't been cooked completely to death, but offers a little resistance (to the tooth) when you bite it. The classic example is pasta. Mushy pasta is not al dente, but a notch or two before your pasta becomes mushy is al dente. The important thing to remember is that in Italy and the greater cooking world in general, al dente is good and mushy is bad.

Al dente is also a big deal in rice dishes, especially risotto.

[OK, OK — to calm those Internet paranoidals who are up in arms over the possibility that we might have revealed the identity — or clues to the identity — of one of our desperately anonymous questioners, the question did not come from anyone named Ramona, Ramon or any variation or derivative thereof, nor did it come from anyone in Colorado, Kansas, New Jersey, Tennessee, or British Columbia. We don't reveal the identity of our questioners. (And we seldom answer questions from people in New Jersey, anyway.)]

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