Thanks to all who played the Pasta Calendar Quiz. If you’re like me and like numbers, you may enjoy this quick update. Spoiler warning! This post will give the correct answers.
Surprisingly only 43% of the people who played answered correctly to all questions. Another 25% did quite well, though, with just 1 error, 21% made 2 mistakes, 9% made 3, and 2% made 4. Nobody got them all wrong.
The question that people had the most problems with was: What is the “companatico?” This might have been a little tricky also for the Italians because ‘companatico’ is an archaic word rarely used these days. ‘Companatico’ comes from Late Latin “companaticum” which means “together with bread.” For instance, cheese is companatico. 68% answered correctly, whereas 30% answered: “A side dish that accompanies the main course,” probably mixing up with ‘contorno.’ One person said: “A typical Christmas cake,” probably confusing it with Panettone.
The other question that was a bit challenging was: If you ask for a “latte” in an Italian bar, what do you get? – a clear trap for the non-Italians :). ‘Latte’ means milk, so, in Italy, if you ask for a ‘latte,’ you get a glass of cold milk (you would need to ask for ‘latte caldo’ to get your milk warmed up.) 79% answered correctly, 17% instead chose: “Steamed milk with a shot of espresso,” which is what you would get outside of Italy, probably short for ‘caffé latte’ – milk with coffe. A small 4% answered: “A strange look from the bartender, pubs don’t sell coffee!”, probably tricked by the word ‘bar,’ which in Italy is associated with a licensed coffee bar, whereas in North America it more often refers to a ‘Martini bar’ or ‘pub.’
83% answered correctly to the question: In Italy, what does the word “panini” refer to?, which is “Two or more sandwiches of any kind,” hinting to the fact that ‘panini’ is plural of panino, and panino is just the Italian word for sandwich. 17% answered: “A grilled sandwich filled with plenty of Italian cold cuts and cheeses,” which is incorrect on two counts: ‘panini’ (plural) would be more than one sandwich, and authentic Italian sandwiches generally are not filled with plenty of different cold cuts and cheeses. Nobody answered: “A toasted sandwich with ham, cheese, and pickles,” which would be what the Italians call a ‘toast.’
People did really well with the chemistry-inspired question on when to double the amount of salt when boiling pasta. What matters is the concentration of salt in the water, so salt is proportional to the amount of water (usually, ½ tablespoon per liter). 83% answered correctly, 11% thought that the amount of salt should be proportional to the amount of pasta, and 6% were completely confused and answered that the amount of salt should be doubled when cooking the pasta “al dente.” Al dente means not overcooked, which has little to do with the amount of salt in the water.
The question on: What is the “aperitivo?” was also very easy for most. 85% gave the correct answer: “A drink to be had before the meal, usually accompanied by a snack,” whereas the rest was equally split between: “The Italian equivalent of the ‘starter’ course,” which would be the antipasto, and: “A drink to be had after the coffee,” which would be the ‘digestivo.’