What it means

Basically, broth. But the untranslated phrase denotes the foundational ingredient's importance to Italian cuisine. "It is not stock, as the term is used in French cooking," Marcella Hazan wrote in her definitive "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." "It is light-bodied and soft-spoken, helping the dishes of which it is a part to taste better without calling attention to itself."

Lamb and pork don't work in brodo, but fish, poultry and beef do: "(It's) made principally with meat, together with some bones to give it a bit of substance," Hazan explained. Yet vegetarian brodo is a possibility too: Asheville chef Brian Canipelli of Cucina 24 was selected for a StarChefs.com Rising Star award on the strength of his potato skin brodo. Lucca and Coda Del Pesce chef Ken Vedrinski has used a wild ramp brodo at Lucca, his down- town Charleston restaurant.

Where we saw it

Coda Del Pesce, Isle of Palms (Tagliolini with Clammer Dave's "Vongole," Herb Verdicchio Brodo Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, $24)

Where else you can try it

Indaco on King Street has offered noodles dressed with shrimp, Calico scallops, blue crab, brodo and chives.

Where to buy it

For this pantry staple, you're on your own. To make Hazan's basic recipe, you'll need a carrot, an onion, a tomato, a celery stalk, a potato, a bell pepper and five pounds of beef, veal or chicken. If that sounds like more broth than you can use, "It's impossible to emphasize how convenient it always is to have frozen broth available," Hazan writes.

Hanna Raskin