Broo-shetta, brew-sketta—to-may-to, to-mat-to, you might say. But for this scrumptious Italian antipasto, the pronunciation isn’t actually that ambiguous. With a grandpa born and raised in Puglia, a dad fluent in Italian, and more eccentric Italian aunts and uncles (or should I say zii and zie) than I can count, you'd think I would've been raised to pronounce all Italian dishes correctly, right? Wrong!

vegetable, tomato, meat, bruschetta
Hailey Maher

Mortifyingly, I did not learn how to pronounce bruschetta until last year when I took an introductory Italian course. On the first day, I realized that Italian “ch” and “ci” sounds are nothing like English pronunciations. In Italian, “ch” is pronounced like a "k" sound. The correct pronunciation (bru-sketta) has only become second nature after spending this past summer in Italy as an au pair. I found it became much easier to remember the correct pronunciation, when inadvertently saying “broo-shetta” prompted giggles and ridicule from the seven- and 10-year-olds I cared for.

What Is Bruschetta?

bruschetta, tomatoes, Pita, hummus, Olio
Matthew Wenger

Bruschetta dates back to the Etruscan age and is thought to have originated in Tuscany. Ever the improvisers, local people would utilize day old, slightly stale bread to make this dish. Originally bruschetta was made by simply baking slices of bread rubbed with a clove of garlic, and a splash of oil. Now, the more common rendition uses diced tomatoes, a dash of salt, and, if available, oregano or basil.

This ancient snack is named from a combination of the Italian verb bruscare, meaning "to toast," and the addition of the diminutive –etta. This suffix is used in many Italian words to denote a smaller version of something.

The Many Faces of Bruschetta

bread, bruschetta, toast, cheese, tomato
Vicky Sanford

Bruschetta has now been expanded far beyond a simple toast dish. Certain Italian restaurants in North America and abroad dedicate entire sections of a menu to bruschetta with many variations involving cheeses, meats, or other vegetables. Recipe versions can also depend upon regions. With so few ingredients, bruschetta is a wonderful dish for amateur gourmands and students alike. Bruschetta has also inspired many recipes, including salads, pastas, or chicken topped in a similar style.

Unfortunately in English speaking nations where the "sch," is innately said as a “sshh” sound, you may receive just as many funny looks and eye rolls for enunciating “Brew-sketta” as you would in Italy for saying “Brew-shetta.” Oh well, ‘when in Rome’ wouldn’t you rather sound like a real Italian anyways? Now, if only it was as easy to master eating bruschetta without spilling chopped tomato everywhere as it is to master its pronunciation.