We've all had that moment where we go to Olive Garden or some other fancy Italian restaurant and have no idea how to pronounce anything on the menu. One of those delicious menu items you may want to order, but don't know how to say, is a Caprese salad, a classic Italian dish that can be tricky to pronounce for people from other cultures. Well, allow me to culture you a little bit today. Here's how to pronounce 'Caprese' so that you can sound like a legit Italian and not make a fool of yourself when you go out to eat. 

What Is Caprese?

caprese salad, cheese, vegetable, basil, mozzarella, dairy product, salad, tomato, olive oil
Katie Russell

A Caprese salad (Insalata Caprese in Italian) is a typical Italian appetizer that's especially popular in the summertime. It's made of alternating tomato slices and mozzarella cheese slices garnished with basil leaves. The salad is then topped with balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil, and a small sprinkling of salt and pepper. Caprese salad is considered a very light dish, usually proceeding a main meal, or as a small lunch or snack during the day.

There's also symbolism in the dish as a whole. As you may know, the flag of Italy has three stripes: green, white, and red. Some Italians think that the dish is supposed to symbolize the colors of the Italian flag. The basil represents the green stripe, the mozzarella cheese represents the white stripe, and the tomatoes represent the red stripe. With this being the case, this is considered a traditional dish in Italy.

How English-Speaking Countries Say It

Since there are many other English-speaking countries, there are many different ways people pronounce Caprese. Typically, the most American way to say it is "kuh-prey-sey." Other English-speaking countries, like England and Australia, will say "kah-pray-zee." However, neither of these are right. Most of the mispronunciations come from an English-speaking country, since they have such a different way of speaking than the Italians do. 

The main difference between the way Italians pronouce Caprese and how the English-speaking countries do is the the "rese" part. Italians pronounce this with a hard "e" and "s," while the rest of the world uses a soft "e" and "s". Italian is also spoken with a hard "c" instead of a soft "c." So, what is the proper Italian way to pronounce Caprese?

How to Pronounce 'Caprese'

The truth of the matter is that there's no one correct pronunciation. The way Italians say Caprese depends on what region of Italy the speaker is from. The most Southern parts of Italy will say "cah-preh-zseh. " The more Northern parts of Italy will pronounce it "cah-prey-zay." It doesn't matter which of these pronunciations you use, as long as you can say them correctly.

This is the equivalent of northern English and southern English. They are both technically right, but the emphasis and the diction depend on the region where you're from. This is often a problem with other Italian words that appear on menus and bottle of wine.

How to Fix This Problem

viennese, coffee
Emily Doris

This goes back to what I just said about other Italian words. There's a fundamental difference between the English language and the Italian language. This makes Italian words innately harder for native English-speakers to pronounce. The best way to fix this problem would be to get some intro-Italian level pronunciation and apply them to all words that you encounter from that point forward. You can always Google it, and see what comes up. Duolingo is also a good app for learning new languages if you are looking for a more permanent solution.

With your newfound knowledge of proper Italian pronunciation, you can successfully order a Caprese salad the next time you're out to eat at an Italian restaurant. As a bonus, you're friends and server are bound to be very impressed.