Letter “B” :: (in) Bianco


When we talk about food and cooking, the word “bianco” [biàn·co], white, is frequently used in the phrase “in bianco” and it means plain food without any colored sauces or additional spices.

  • Mangiare in bianco [man·jà·rɛ in biàn·co] to eat plain food, often happens after being sick or after recovering from a malaise. Therefore, having riso in bianco (boiled rice) or pasta in bianco (plain pasta, i.e. with butter or oil) is not exactly the best treat for a food lover.
  • Carne bianca [càr·nɛ biàn·ca] it’s white meat, (mostly referring to poultry or rabbit) – as opposed to red meat (carne rossa). Confetti bianchi [con·fèt·ti biàn·ki] white confetti, the candy ones, are used for weddings only. For other colours read here: Did you say confetti?
Letters from Italy: "B" - (in) bianco | photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

As it happens for many Italian words and phrases, in bianco too, must be handled with care 😉 Especially when it goes with the verb andare (to go). Andare in bianco [an·dà·re in biàn·co] means “not to score”, and this is perhaps even worse than having a strict diet based on boiled rice.”

  • A settimana bianca [set·ti·mà·na biàn·ca] white week, does not mean that you’ll live on rice for seven days, or that your ladykiller charm is worryingly dropping, but simply that you’re spending some days off in a ski resort in winter time.
  • Being a mosca bianca [mó·sca biàn·ca] white fly, means “to be as rare as hen’s teeth”, and
  • an assegno in bianco [as·sé·nyo in biàn·co] is a blank cheque.

There are many more idiomatic uses of “(in) bianco” – I don’t want to bore you about it – but the one that I like the most is “beviamoci un bicchiere di bianco” [be·vyà·mo·tchi un bikié·re di biàn·co], let’s have a glass of “white”: here white can only be referred to wine 😉

Cheers to the pitfalls of the Italian language!