Paccheri with fish

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Part 1 – language

A. Recipe story

Paccheri is a traditional Italian pasta from Naples. It is like macaroni, only bigger. This ‘giant macaroni’ is similar to a hand that can slap someone. So, they were named ‘paccheri’ after the Neapolitan word for slap: ‘pacca’.

(Loretta Capannelli)

B. Language focus

Look at how Loretta describes the pasta.

  1. It is like macaroni, only bigger.

  2. …is similar to a hand that can slap someone.

  3. So they were named ‘paccheri’ after the Neapolitan word for slap: ‘pacca’.

1. likeonly

These two words work together to describe a similar thing, and then explain a difference. A form of the verb to be is necessary before like.

Loretta says that this pasta, which is not known by many people outside Italy, is similar to macaroni (which is very popular in other countries), and then how it is different. After only, there is a comparative adjective. This emphasises the difference in the comparison.

  • It is like macaroni, only bigger.
  • They are like the old ones, only faster.
  • The new phone is like the old one, only slimmer.

Task 1: Choose five things to compare. They could be different cuisines, drinks, or even people! Using the …[be] like, only… structure, compare the five things.

2. …similar to…

Use this to compare two things, helping people understand you more clearly. Not many people outside of Italy know of paccheri, but they do understand the idea of a hand that can slap. Before and after similar to, you only need two nouns or noun phrases.

  • This ‘giant macaroni’ is similar to a hand that can slap someone.
  • The spring in my country is similar to an English summer.
  • His new motorbike is similar to the one in the Tom Cruise film.

Task 2: Choose five things to describe. Select things that other people might not know much about, and use the noun after similar to to make it clearer.

3. named after

Loretta explains how this pasta got its name. She uses the named after phrase to explain where the name originates. This is used with passive voice, so you need to use a form of the verb to be before the word named. However, you can ‘split’ the named after, as Loretta does here.

  • …they were named ‘paccheri’ after the Neapolitan word for slap…

However,

  • …they were named after the Neapolitan word for slap…
  • is also good. Notice that the actual word is not included in the second way.
  • I was named after Saint John. / I was named ‘John’ after Saint John.
  • It was named after the Chinese word for little rice. / It was named ‘xiao mi’ after the Chinese word for little rice.
  • They were named after their grandparents. / They were named ‘Boris’ and ‘Katya’ after their grandparents.

Task 3: Who were you named after? What about the other members of your family? Was anyone you know named after someone famous? What about products and brands from your country? What are they named after?

C. Task response

Part 2 – recipe

D. Ingredients

  • 400g fillet of grouper (aka stone bass), or similar thick white fish
  • 200g paccheri
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g black olives, sliced
  • 20g capers
  • ½ glass white wine
  • oil, salt and pepper
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

E. Method

  1. Cut the fish into small, bit-sized pieces. Saute them gently in the oil for about five or six minutes. Then, pour in the wine, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer

  2. After three minutes, add the tomatoes (slice them in half, first), before covering the pan with a lid.

  3. When the tomatoes have softened, add the olives and capers, then let everything cook together gently for around fifteen minutes. During this time, prepare the pasta.

  4. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add a good pinch of salt and the paccheri. When the pasta has cooked, drain well, and add it to the ingredients in the pan, mixing well before serving, garnished with the chopped parsley.

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