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How do you properly pronounce "bruschetta" and do you have any good recipes?

When unpronounceables are listed on a menu, you're almost sure to be corrected – even when you're saying it right. Then you commit the item to memory and the next time you enunciate with newfound pride when ordering, say, Gewürztraminer, cassoulet, bacalao or bruschetta. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a patron ask for "broo-SKEH-tah," only to have a server snootily correct, "You mean, the 'broo-SHEH-tah'?" pronouncing the "shhhh" in the middle of the word as if hushing an unruly child.

To get to the bottom of the pronunciation question, I went to my dictionary of food terms, but just to be sure, I also called a friend from the Abruzzo region of Italy. On both counts, the answer had the clucky "K" in the back of the throat. Broo-SKEH-tah! So order with confidence.

In this country, we almost always think of bruschetta as tomato, basil and mozzarella on baguette toast. It is traditionally a rustic piece of Italian bread, such as ciabatta, rubbed with a garlic clove, toasted and drizzled with olive oil. Bruschetta originated as a way for Italian oil makers to test the flavor of their season's batch. The term stems from the Latin bruscare, which means "to toast over coals," and true to its linguistic roots, toasting the bread is an important component in making it. And all the better if you toast it over a grill that leaves faint char marks on one side of the bread. Bruschetta is Roman in origin but spread to other parts of Italy and eventually to most of the Western world.

We're now in the midst of the season of olive oil harvest, so it's the right time to find a loaf of crusty bread and invest in a bottle of transcendent olive oil.

Then try some of the following recipes:

Basic Bruschetta
As adapted from Marcella Hazan
12 slices ciabatta bread
4 cloves lightly mashed garlic
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt (fleur de sel is great) and freshly ground black pepper

If you have a charcoal barbecue, by all means, fire it up. If not, heat the oven to 450 degrees or heat and lightly grease a stovetop grill pan. Grill the bread slices on both sides until they are crisp and light amber. While the bread is still hot, rub one side of each slice with the mashed garlic. Drizzle each slice with enough olive oil to lightly saturate. Sprinkle each with fleur de sel and fresh pepper. Yum!

Savory Tomato Bruschetta
6 ripe plum tomatoes
4 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella
8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simply cut the tomatoes and cheese into cubes about the same size. (I like them on the smallish side, as they tend to stay on the bread better.) Throw in the torn basil and toss a few times to let the oils from the basil brush against the other ingredients. Drizzle with optional oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Waldorf Bruschetta
This recipe is perfect for fall menus. Add some braised squash or pumpkin for even more of an autumn kick.
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 celery stalk
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice apples and celery stalk and toss with walnuts, blue cheese and crème fraiche until well-coated. Throw in the nutmeg and lemon zest and stir. Season with salt and pepper.

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