Per favore perdonate il mio povero italiano. Sto usando Google Translate per aiutarmi, perché sono un principiante in italiano. (Lo sto studiando da soltanto otto mesi.)

Capisco che la parola italiana "torta" sia usata sia per ciò che l'inglese chiama "cake" e per la cosa che si chiama "pie".

Allora, se "torta di mele" è su un menù, ad esempio, come si fa a sapere se è come la prima o la seconda immagine?



Una risposta in italiano e in inglese mi aiuterebbe di più, ma entrambe le lingue vanno bene.

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    I took the liberty of editing your title, since as it was I understood it as a request for an explanation about the difference between cake and pie (which of course would be off-topic here). – DaG Jun 20 '18 at 0:29
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    It happens that different languages partition concepts in different ways. So I understand that for an English speaker “cakes” and “pies” are clearly different concepts, while they are all torte for an Italian, just like Italian scimmia means both “monkey” and “ape”, and there are examples the other way around too. (Of course there are names for specific, Italian torte: crostata, pastiera, millefoglie, sbrisolona...) – DaG Jun 20 '18 at 0:41
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    Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Jun 20 '18 at 7:15
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    @DaG: I think that your comment could be converted into an answer. – Charo Jun 20 '18 at 7:54
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    I took the liberty of fixing a couple of small errors and added the images for better clarity. Welcome to Italian.SE! :-) – egreg Jun 20 '18 at 13:43

I must admit that, as an Italian, I am not sure about the difference between “cake” and “pie” (apart from specific cases). In fact, I find the two images quite similar and both look like particular kinds of torte, while there are other torte that are much more different than those two differ between them.

It so happens that different languages partition concepts in different ways.1 I understand that for an English speaker “cakes” and “pies” are clearly different concepts, while they are all torte for an Italian, just like Italian scimmia means both “monkey” and “ape”. There are lots of examples the other way around too, of course. For instance, an English “cup” corresponds at least to the distinct Italian words and notions of tazza, tazzina, coppa and sometimes to bicchiere too; or take “helmet”, which can correspond in Italian to elmo, elmetto or casco, and so on. (And I don't even mention, say, the several Italian words for what abroad one would simply call pasta.)

To go back to torte, of course there are in Italian several names for specific torte: crostata, pastiera, millefoglie, sbrisolona...

1 Here we are skirting the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

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    Come aggiunta culinaria, si può dire che in italiano non c’è una traduzione per “apple pie”, che conserva il suo nome. L’apple pie ha un ripieno disposto tra due strati di pasta. Non è uno strudel, in cui il ripieno è avvolto in un unico strato di pasta. La torta di mele è tipicamente quella della prima foto, che si prepara facendo un impasto a cui si aggiunge il lievito. – Benedetta Jun 20 '18 at 13:55
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    @DaG This has been a funny ongoing conversation with my me and my tutor. Whenever I make a pie, I have to awkwardly try to explain what it is, even knowing that it will translate as "cake" in the end. Crostata is very close, but from what I've read they tend to be open, whereas a lot of pies in America are closed (the open pies are called tarts, or sometimes crisps, which seems to be a more accurate translation of crostata). – Marco Jun 20 '18 at 16:02
  • +1 for sbrisolona (and the excellent answer, of course) :) – Denis Nardin Jun 20 '18 at 20:30
  • I'm going to comment in English from now on, as I'm much more comfortable with it. @DaG: I agree that the pictures aren't as distinct as I would have liked. I chose 'apple' as a flavour rather arbitrarily and I searched on "Italian apple pie" and "Italian apple cake" for examples. For me (and I believe most native speakers of English) the distinction is that "cake" is rather like sweetened bread, whereas "pie" is characterized by a layer of pastry with a sweet filling, optionally topped by another layer of pastry. – Wilson F Jun 20 '18 at 21:43
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    @WilsonF For a similar distinction, Americans consider cookies and biscuits two different things. For the life of me in all the five years I spent there I couldn't understand the difference (and I spent a significant portion of departmental teatimes discussing it) . Italian simply does not consider cake and (sweet) pie different things. They are just declinations among infinite other possible declinations of the concept of torta. There isn't a special name for them, nor a reason to invent one. – Denis Nardin Jun 20 '18 at 21:55

Non sono un cuoco ma credo che, in linea di massima, con "cake" possiamo identificare quello che in italiano chiamiamo "torta" (es: millefoglie, mimosa, ecc), invece un "pie" assomiglia di più a quella che noi chiamiamo "crostata". Inoltre "pie" mi sembra più adatto a definire i tortini salati.

Fonte: provate a scrivere "cake torta" e "pie torta" su Google Immagini e date un'occhiata ai risultati ;)

I'm not a cook but speaking generally with "cake" we can identify what in Italian is called "torta". A "pie" instead is more similar to what we call "crostata". Also I think "pie" can describe better a don't know how to translate this thing.

Source: try searching "cake torta" and "pie torta" on Google Images and check the results ;)

  • I see your point, but a crostata has almost always a decoration of shortcrust (most often a kind of lattice), which I'm not sure is always the case of a pie. And pies, as you mention, may be savoury as well as sweet, while a crostata is alway sweet, generally with jam or ricotta cheese. – DaG Jun 20 '18 at 16:46
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    And, sorry for the nitpicking: about «"pie" can describe better...», the question was about the meaning of torta in English, not of pie in Italian. :) In other words, your answer and the mention of the two image searches are interesting, but more useful to understand the difference between “cake” and “pie” (which are OT here and well known to the OP) than how to disambiguate torta. – DaG Jun 20 '18 at 16:50
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    The Ligurian “torta pasqualina” would definitely qualify as “pie” in English. – egreg Jun 20 '18 at 17:43
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    @egreg This got me thinking. Torta Pasqualina reminds me of Pizza Rustica (don't know if that's the correct term, but that's what my aunt called it), which made me realize that a pizza is a sort of flat pie. In that it has a "filling" on a bread crust. A calzone would be the analogous closed-shell-pie. This could also possibly explain why, in English, a whole pizza is referred to as a "pie", and might be one of the reasons for this subtle language-specific difference. – Marco Jun 20 '18 at 18:54
  • @Jack_Kirby I think the closest English translation of tortino salato would be a savory pie. But I'd need someone to confirm that as I'm not first-hand familiar with that class of dishes. – Marco Jun 20 '18 at 20:17

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