You know how weird it is to know something for a very long time and then not really know it at all?
I’ve been hearing Italians, many of them Sardinian, saying “che cavolo” For a long time. It means, literally, “how cabbage.”
I knew the subtext was naughty. I didn’t use the phrase because I didn’t know exactly how naughty it was. You don’t want to be out there on your balcony spewing out filthy cabbage words while your neighbors look up at you aghast.
Then along comes Kyle Phillips’ newsletter. In it, he explains, “Cavolo means cabbage, and we’ll get to that in a sec, but now it’s time for a quick Italian lesson. The word cavolo sounds rather like a vulgar term for the Male Appendage, and people often use it when they don’t want to be rude, rather like some English speakers use gosh-darn instead of (ahem). For example, “Cavolo!” is an expression of surprise akin to “Holy Sh___!” And now back to food. Cavolo, to be exact.”
You can learn things from these wine and food people—things you need to know if you are to function in proper Italian society.
Happy cabbage to you.