Word of the day – panettone

A photo of a panettone

This week we’ve had a Secret Santa style exchange of gifts at the office. Quite a few of those involved asked for the money to be donated to charity, but there were a few actual presents. Someone very generously gave me what I thought was a large cake, but have since discovered is a kind of cake-shaped bread from Milan called panettone.

The name panettone comes from the Italian word panetto, a small loaf bread. The -one end indicates it’s large, so is a “little big loaf”, and very tasty as well. Here’s a recipe, if you want to try making a panettone yourself.

This entry was posted in Italian, Language, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Word of the day – panettone

  1. In Italian culture, panettone is such an obvious and immediate metaphor for Christmas itself, that the phrase mangiare il panettone (“to eat the panettone”) means to reach Christmastime safe and sound, i.e. to reach Christmastime keeping office (for a politician or government or football coach etc. whose position is unstable).

  2. BG says:

    According to Wikipedia, “The most likely etymology derives from the Milanese, ‘pan del ton,’ meaning ‘bread of luxury.'” I know Wikipedia can’t always be trusted, but these etymologies differ significantly.

  3. ilda says:

    Hi, what a mouth-watering post! Panettone… though its name recalls the idea of “bread”, I would definitely call it a cake or in any case a dessert. Its “rival” par excellence is the Veronese pandoro, a similar – perhaps more buttery – brioche-like food but without raisins or candied fruits.

  4. Randy says:

    The person who introduced this to me referred to it as a “dessert bread”.

  5. Travis says:

    Ilda, I enjoyed your website about translating… with the liberal sprinkling of food. Among others, your entry on the DNA of words was a ‘tasty’ read.
    The only problem with panettone is its good enough to eat… and it’s big so you can keep slicing off quite a lot of it before anyone notices the pig you’ve made of yourself. Chase it down with a couple good shots of egg nog. With that said, I have nothing against Christmas but the calories. It’s interesting to consider the different kinds of traditional foods for this time of year around the world. In my area, everyone talks about, or jokes about fruit cake. It’s like eating a loaf of brown sugar saturated with butter and dried fruit. Can’t get enough of it. Ever notice how no one ever talks about raw carrots and celery in the month of December?

  6. renato figueiredo says:

    BG, in Brazil we are used to hear that the origin of Panettone comes from an Italian bakary called Toni, which one day, making his bread, made a mistake, and put some cristalized fruits into the mass, to not have to throw it away. The result was the Panettone, which is very popular in Brazil, brought from Italian imigrants. Also here, Panettone is a tradition on Christmas season. Nowadays the industry also make “chocottone” it is the Panettone, not with fruits but with chololate pieces.

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