Of course I know how to pronounce Brushetta and Prosciutto, but according to Irene on her blog article, The Perils of Pronunciation, it might set someone off.
I'm afraid that I drove a deli counter clerk around the bend recently. And I still don't know how it really happened. A bit of background, first
There are two bits of Italian food that I absolutely love – Bruschetta and Prosciutto. As much as I love them, the pronunciation of them has always been a stumbling block unless I thought about it, because my inclination is to pronounce each of these in the opposite way that they should be.
Bruschetta is pronounced Brew – SKET- ta. But I always wanted to pronounce it Brew – SHET – ta. Proscuitto is pronounced pro – SHOE – toe, but I always wanted to pronounce it pro – SKEW- toe. I'm sure you can understand the stress this has caused me in life.
In my spare time, I could be found muttering to myself "pro-SHOE-toe – brew-SKET-ta, pro-SHOE-toe – brew-SKET-ta, pro-SHOE-toe – brew-SKET-ta". And then one day, it just came naturally. Without thinking, brew-SKET-ta flowed naturally from my lips without thought. Pro-SHOE-toe was simply second nature, requiring no deep concentration.
And so, without even thinking, I walked up to the (non-Italian) deli counter in our mass market chain. They used to carry chopped tomatoes, seasoned with basil, garlic, and olive oil at the counter (they called it bruschetta), but as of late they had started putting it in cartons and hiding it in a new place each time I visited. I suspect it is one of those games born out of boredom that deli counter workers indulge in worldwide.
"Excuse me," I said politely. "Can you tell me where you've put the brew-SKET-ta?". The deli counter said, "What are you talking about?".
"Brew-SKET-ta", I said. "The chopped tomotoes that you used to keep in the deli counter, but that you now put in cartons. Can you tell me where they are?".
The deli counter stared at me with frustration in her eyes and exclaimed loudly, "It's brewSHETta. BruSHETta!"
Taken somewhat aback, I merely responded, "Ok, so where do you keep that?"
She waved in the general direction of a deli case afar, and continued to exclaim loudly, "It's brewSHETa. I've never even heard it called brew-SKET-ta. I am so sick of you people".
I grabbed my carton of bruschetta and carried on, as the deli counter clerk continued to rant loudly. Three aisles away, I could still hear her loudly exclaiming her disgust with customers in general, but me specifically. Though not the smartest move on my part, I turned back to the counter to discuss her clear stress. She got even louder as she screeched about the twenty years of service she had put in dealing with idiots like me.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry you didn't agree with my pronunciation – but don't you think this is a bit uncalled for? I'm just here shopping. There's no need to scream at me while I am three aisles away".
The deli counter clerk exclaimed, "I hate customers. I'm through with customers. I've spent twenty years dealing with customers and I've had it! Go ahead and turn me into the manager – I've already turned my two week notice in. What are they going to do, fire me?!?!?"
I admit. I did go and speak with the manager. I let him know that one of his employees had snapped, and was on the verge of doing irreparable damage to his customer service image. I didn't really need to tell him – we could hear her screaming as we talked. As he approached her to get her to calm down, she grabbed her belongings and announced her intentions to leave rather than be asked to leave.
I'm still a bit puzzled by it all. My only hope is that it does not create a setback in my newly found bruschetta/prosciutto confidence! Who knew the peril that could be found in proper pronunciation.