Ratatouille or Giambotta?

Who hasn’t cooked up summer vegetables all together in a pan? Chinese would call it stir fry, the French: ratatouille and in my house it is giambotta. I found a recipe for ratatouille in a magazine and thought this sounds like a dish my mother makes every summer, give or take a few vegetables. Since we always had some form of a garden growing up, my parents would use every inch of dirt suitable to grow tomatoes, zucchini, basil, cucumbers, the list is endless. This meant that no matter what was served that night for dinner, a nice dish of giambotta accompanied that meal. This dish would consist of any vegetable of your choosing but for us it was mostly, tomato, peppers, eggplant, onion, zucchini sautéed in olive oil with fresh basil in one pan. The Ratatouille recipe that I used was similar but you sauté each vegetable in its own pan then throw it all together in one pan at the end with a little more olive oil under a low heat then served.
I had my radio show yesterday ( a little self promotion here Zumix) and my co-host an I were talking about food and the rataouille dish came up. So I went on to explain that it is a similar dish to giambotta. He looked at me with a strange face and asked what is giambotta? He too is Italian, in fact a native Italian and I just assumed he knew what it was.

Italy’s regions have many dialects and words that I grew up with can make absolute no sense to someone, say from northern Italy. But the word giambotta also means “a mess” or a mix of things, basically everything is thrown in the mix so it becomes a lovely mess. We don’t always use it for food. We laughed about giambotta and I vowed to never make ratatouille again but of the labor involved, but of course I broke my promise and made it tonight. I used what was in my refrigerator, … so maybe this was really giambotta and not Ratatouille? Either way my mother would be proud of me for attempting to make either dish. No matter where you are from the food is the same it’s just the way you cook them. I won’t even start on “panicolo”, I’ll save that for later 😉


6 thoughts on “Ratatouille or Giambotta?

  1. N- Big August 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm Reply

    it makes a world of difference …you taste all the vegtables . its great!!

  2. everyonewantstobeitalian August 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm Reply

    So you are a ratatouille fan????

  3. Nicola Orichuia August 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm Reply

    I’m a fan of ratatouille with penne pasta!

  4. Roberto Ragone May 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm Reply

    Hey Lisa,

    I really like your blog.

    Also i read your posting below in your blog. There must be something in the air about Giambotta. My mother made it for me for the first time in my life about a month ago and it was definitely one of the best things she ever cooked. It really stood out. she also cooked everything in separate pan.

    I tried to replicate for friends twice. The first time either my mother forgot to tell me an ingredient or I didn’t catch her saying it. It wasn’t the same but people still like it.

    I tried again with all the ingredients she used but still not quite right compared to my mother’s.

    But, cooking it at the home that hosted the dinner, my friend the hostess asked what I was making and I couldn’t tell her, but she said it seemed like ratatouille. I enjoyed the movie, but I never quite caught what the dish actually was until now. But that scene where the cynical food critic has a burst of recollection into how happy he was when his mother cooked it for him was probably one of the greatest moments in animated film history.

    Your blog gives me options about which vegetables to use.


  5. VTA April 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm Reply

    I’m Ital-American too. I love this stuff, though I never heard the name till I was an adult. I think of ratatouille and ciambotta as the same thing. I cook them till the vegs are pretty soft. I don’t like crunchy vegs, except in a stir-fry, which, for me, ciambotta is definitely not.

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