Fishy talk in Italy

Names of fish in foreign countries is one of the trickiest translations to master, but here’s a start (in the form of a quiz).

Alas, even if you ace 10 out of 10 in that quiz you might still find yourself stumped reading a local Italian menu (for instance, the answer to the first question is triglie if you are in Liguria, which is not offered as an option in the multiple choice quiz), but still, most of those names are worth knowing.

Wow, 8/10 in 00:01:53, but I mainly guessed. Got it wrong with cod and globefish.

Brava! Good guesses.

I realize now that my other post is incorrect in that triglie are little red mullets, while the quiz was asking about big grey ones.


I knew two. Everything else, right or wrong, was a guess. But then I don’t claim to be able to speak Italian. Nor, in fact, do I claim to be able to know all of those fish in English.

You’re not getting off that easy with those mullets. The mullet in the quiz is correctly grey mullet in English, which is cefalo in Italian, but also muggine. The red mullet, triglia (pl. triglie), is subdivided into triglia di fango (mud) and triglia di scoglio (rocks), respectively Mullus barbatus and Mullus surmuletus.

Fish are very difficult because some fish have no names in English, and many fish have a variety of names in Italian. You just always have to ask a waiter what they are like.

I give the quiz credit for not translating dentice as “red snapper,” which is the mistranslation du jour making the rounds of Italian menus. But who ever heard of dentex in English?

BTW I aced the quiz, but if I hadn’t, I’d be rending my garments.

I see a box asking me if I want to revive this old conversation. Well, sure. I only just saw it, love the topic, and think it’s pretty timeless.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold