Italian word for the week: Fare la scarpetta

Squeeze every last drop of flavour from your plate with the Italian tradition of “fare la scarpetta

clearing sauce from a plate with a piece of bread

Fare la scarpetta” is a unique Italian phrase that embodies the country’s culinary and cultural traditions.

The literal translation of the phrase is “do the little shoe,” but it’s used to describe the act of cleaning the plate with a piece of bread to enjoy the last remnants of a delicious meal.

There are different interpretations of the origin of the phrase. Some suggest that “scarpetta” refers to a type of pasta that has a concave shape, making it perfect for collecting the last of the sauce.

Others think it’s to do with the gesture itself, thought to be unpretentious – simple, unrefined, and enjoyable like a pair of light, flexible shoes.

The most likely explanation for the name is that when the bread is bent and dipped in the sauce, it takes on the shape of a small shoe, leaving “footprints” on the plate.

Whatever its origin, “fare la scarpetta” is an integral part of Italian culture.

Though the gesture is considered somewhat inelegant, it’s not something easily given up for the sake of etiquette. It’s a widely-beloved technique used to get the most out of a meal, and to squeeze out every last drop of flavour.

Tuscan bread is perfect for “fare la scarpetta“. Considered bland by the uninitiated, it’s made without salt which allows it to absorb the flavours of the food with no clashing of tastes.

Example sentences with fare la scarpetta

  • Dopo aver gustato la deliziosa lasagna, non ho potuto resistere a fare la scarpetta con il pane fresco.
    After enjoying the delicious lasagne, I couldn’t resist doing the little shoe with the fresh bread.
  • Io faccio sempre la scarpetta quando mangio la pasta al ragù.
    I always do the little shoe when I eat pasta with ragù sauce.
  • Lei sta facendo la scarpetta con quel pezzo di pane.
    She is cleaning the plate with that piece of bread.

Just as we can use bread to get the most out of a meal, we should strive to get the most out of life. We should savour every moment and enjoy every opportunity, even if it means getting our hands a little dirty. So, let’s all “fare la scarpetta” and enjoy the delicious flavours of life to the fullest!

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