"Al" in association with Food



What's the rule for using "al" in association with food?
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi AR--9,

Al is the contraction of a + il: a is a preposition that can roughly be translated as to, and il is one of the possible definite articles.

It's essentially a translation of to the.

Here's an example related to food:
Preferisco l'olio al burro. I prefer oil to butter
Italian likes to use the definite article, whereas English doesn't.

Because there are different definite articles, al is only one of the possible combinations and it's used for nouns that begin with a consonant (with the exception of s-, ps- and a few others).

When speaking of food in particular, al can also mean that a particular dish contains a "special" ingredient.

Here's an example:
Pane al burro. (Bread with [that cointains] butter)

Since dough for bread doesn't usually contain butter, its particular presence is added in the description as to say "I'm special, I contain butter and I may be tastier than normal bread"! :)

Of couse, the possibilies are endless because al is only one of the combinations. You can also have:
Un gelato all'amarena. (Black cherry ice cream, contraction for a+la)
Pasta alle ortiche. (Pasta with nettles, contraction of a+le)
Pasta al pesto. (Pasta with pesto)

And, ultimately, a+article can be used to indicate the origin of a traditional dish:
Pesto alla genovese. (Genoa pesto)

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Hope I helped! :)


What a wonderful explanation.  You are really very helpful to all of us.

Thanks a bunch.
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Glad I was of help!





Ask a question or post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here.
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket Italian trial here.