Italian Language Blog

Lezione di cucina Posted by on Jan 14, 2009 in Grammar

In Italian we have two verbs which both have the meaning of “to cook”: Cucinare and Cuocere.

Mi piace molto cucinare perche’ e’ creativo (I really like cooking because it’s creative). Cucinare means “to prepare and cook food”, which involves gathering the different ingredients needed for a recipe, then preparing and cooking them. I spend quite a lot of time in cucina a cucinare i miei piatti preferiti (in the kitchen cooking my favorite dishes).

Cucinare is a regular verb:

Io cucino = I cook

Tu cucini = you cook (singular informal)

Lei cucina = you cook (formal)

Lui/lei cucina = he/she cooks

Noi cuciniamo = we cook

Voi cucinate = you cook (plural)

Loro cucinano = they cook

Gianna cucina il risotto ai funghi (Gianna cooks risotto with mushrooms); io e mia madre spesso cuciniamo insieme (me and my mother often cook together). The past participle of cucinare is cucinato: e.g. ieri ho cucinato le lasagne (yesterday I cooked lasagne). The word cucina (from the verb cucinare) means both kitchen and cuisine or cookery: la cucina mediterranea e’ molto sana (Mediterranean cookery is very healthy); la cucina italiana e’ molto varia (Italian cuisine is very varied).

Cuocere on the other hand deals with the actual process of transforming ingredients through baking, boiling, frying, grilling etc. or “subjecting materials such as clay to the action of fire”, e.g.:cuocere gli spaghetti in acqua bollente per 11 minuti (cook the spaghetti in boiling water for 11 minutes).

Cuocere is also a regular verb:

Io cuocio = I cook

Tu cuoci = you cook (singular informal)

Lei cuoce = you cook (formal)

Lui/lei cuoce = he/she cooks

Noi cuociamo = we cook

Voi cuocete = you cook (plural)

Loro cuociono = they cook

For example: io cuocio il pesce nel forno (I cook the fish in the oven); il riso cuoce in 18 minuti (rice cooks in 18 minutes). The past participle of the verb cuocere is cotto: e.g.: ieri ho cotto del pane (yesterday I baked some bread); la pasta e’ cotta (the pasta is cooked). Many familiar words incorporate the past participle of cuocere, for example: biscotto (biscuit, which literally means “cooked twice” because originally biscotti were made from a sweet loaf which was then sliced and baked again in order to dry it out thoroughly so that it would store better); ricotta (literally “cooked again”, a dairy product made from the left over whey after cheese has been made); terracotta (literally “cooked earth”); and cottura (cooking time). The title of the person who does the cooking also derives from the verb cuocere: il cuoco or la cuoca (the cook).

We also use the colloquial expression sono cotta! (if you’re female) or sono cotto! (if you’re male) meaning I’m tired out! or I’m exhausted!

E a te piace cucinare? (and how about you, do you like cooking?)

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  1. Ann:

    I like cooking…I try to cook some italian dishes (pasta al pesto ecc…) …io amo il pesto…ma non sono un’ ottima cuoca…di solito compro dell’ottimo pesto in Liguria , ma spesso non riesco ad andarci In Liguria (per cui compro online!).
    Ti segnalo un ottimo sito italiano che vende un pesto buonissimo, (per chi lo ama come me, che sono Ligure ma non abito nella mia citta’…purtroppo!) il sito si chiama palatifini…ciao

  2. Melissa:

    C’e’ anche l’espressione che mi piace molto…ho preso una cotta per lui/lei

    I have a crush on him/her ; )

  3. Tina:

    Cuocere is regular but it’s important to know that some tenses are abandoned.
    No one uses passato remoto anyomore.
    So saying Io cossi un pesce sounds strange.

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