Mr. Food: What Do They Mean? Al dente, a la Florentine, primavera...

There are loads of fancy-sounding cooking terms that really are pretty easy to understand.
So let's take a look at a few that we are running into lately in recipes and on a lot of our restaurant menus.

First, A-L D-E-N-T-E.

It is actually an Italian phrase that, translated, means "to the tooth." Now, our food dictionary tells us that it can describe any food that is cooked only until it offers slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.

With pasta, if we cook it too long, it will absorb too much cooking liquid, our dish will be soggy.

Plus, if it is a baked dish like lasagna we are making, starting with al dente pasta will give us perfect results! Next, if we make a dish that says A L-A F-L-O-R-E-N-T-I-N-E, it sounds Italian too, right? But actually it is French for the phrase "in the style of Florence, Italy." It most often refers to dishes that are served either stuffed, on a bed of or smothered with spinach and maybe a sauce or a sprinkling of cheese.

Here is a brunch favorite: Eggs Florentine. See the spinach? That is what makes it Florentine! Works great with fish or chicken too! Last, P-R-I-M-A-V-E-R-A. Now that is Italian for "spring style" which simply means using fresh or blanched veggies to team with our food, like in this Pasta Primavera.

See? It is teamed with colorful veggies in a light cream sauce. So now, when we sit down at a restaurant and read the menu or we dish up dinner at home, we can sound oh-so-smart and fancy because we know the meaning behind the "OOH IT'S SO GOOD!!®"