Rezdôra.

This week’s New Yorker has a review of Rezdôra, a new Italian restaurant; of course I was curious about the name, which is explained thus: “rezdôra means ‘grandmother’ in Modenese dialect.” OK, great, but it’s an odd-looking word, and I wanted to know more. Googling quickly revealed that every review mentions the meaning, and the restaurant’s website leads with it: “Rezdôra, the Modenese word for grandmother, is a rustic Italian restaurant highlighting the cuisine of Emilia Romagna in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood.” But I had trouble finding any further discussion of the word. Google Books gave me snippets like “Working alongside the rezdora Lidia Cristoni and applying techniques learned as an apprentice to French chef Georges Coigny,” “He explained how the barnyard and kitchen garden were the family matriarch’s (she is called rezdora in local dialect) domain,” and “Loosely translated, rezdora means ‘housewife,’ but what it really means is queen of the kitchen. It is the word that is used to describe the women, usually older, who are keeping alive the traditions of the recipes of Emilia-Romagna.” Which makes it sound like it doesn’t actually mean ‘grandmother’ after all. And it’s still an odd-looking word, and I still want to know its origin. Any suggestions?

Comments

  1. This is based on nothing, but maybe it’s the Modenese equivalent of Spanish (I don’t know Italian) “regidora” (female regent)? It’d make some sense in context, and could explain the association with queen of the kitchen; furthermore, judging from my “Romance instinct” I can’t see how “rezdora” could be a composite word.

  2. My linguistic intuition says ‘rezdora’ is just a local word for restaurant (“ristorante” in standard Italian).

  3. John Cowan says:

    This blog post in Emiliano-Romagnolo with some Italian glosses, spells it rézdóra and glosses it ‘reggitrice della casa, della famiglia’. The réz- certainly looks cognate to regg-.

  4. So, it’s just “reggitora” (feminine of “reggitore” – “governess”)?

  5. Did you try alternative spellings? Here’s a couple links that talk about “resdora”, same basic meaning.

    https://picgym.net/ciaoresdora/photo/1983680474393323606_1586393038

    https://www.laresdora.com/pages/about-us

    The latter is a website for a brand of balasmic vinegar, La Resdora.

    Oh, and found a dictionary (in Italian), with an entry, and also entries for rezdor and rezdorat (it appears to have a dot above the O in all three words). Rezdor, masculine, is the head of a peasant household.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=v54FAAAAQAAJ&hl=it&pg=PA412#v=onepage&q&f=false

  6. This blog post in Emiliano-Romagnolo with some Italian glosses, spells it rézdóra and glosses it ‘reggitrice della casa, della famiglia’. The réz- certainly looks cognate to regg-.

    So J’s guess was right — excellent intuition!

    Did you try alternative spellings?

    No, and that would clearly have been a good idea.

  7. One of the first pages that came up for me has an even more confusing spelling, “arzdòra”.

    https://www.wetheitalians.com/web-magazine/italian-language-beinvgnu-emilian-dialect

  8. Is that change from ‘g’ to ‘z’ related to the same change in “pasta fagioli” to “fazool”?

  9. Roberto Batisti says:

    Yep, J is right – it’s the equivalent of Spanish regidora or Italian reggitrice. The Bolognese cognate is arzdåura (åu pronounced pretty much like the diphthong in Eng. cow). Syncope produced some interesting consonant clusters in Emilian dialects.

  10. Thanks for the confirmation and additional info!

  11. There is also a cafe called “Casa Razdora” in downtown Boston. The homepage describes the name this way: “The Razdora is the Italian homemaker, creating all from scratch with her own hands.”

    No indication of what region in Italy the owner comes from, but since they serve piadine, Romagna would make sense.

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