You’ve heard it said a thousand times: ‘gabagool’ is the new ‘mama mia’ of bad Italian impersonations. Hell, even I’ll throw it out in casual conversation, but I’m one-eighth Italian so it doesn’t count as cultural appropriation. In all seriousness though, what is this joke of a word and why is Tony Soprano so obsessed with it?
If you know your way around a charcuterie board, then you’re probably familiar with cured Italian meats such as prosciutto, mortadella, and capicola. Well as it turns out, the word gabagool is a colloquialism for capicola – although its roots are far more American in origin than they are Italian. Hence, why the titular mob boss in HBO’s The Sopranos likes it so much. It’s just a fun way to talk about a snack. While the word is a blast to say, there’s really not much objective humor in a slice of bastard meat made up of prosciutto and sausage.
Marone! While gabagool isn’t leaving the lexicon anytime soon, there are plenty of other fun Italian words and phrases that will boost your mafioso impression to the next level. Try calling your friends pantafolaie or fannulloni and watch as they gawk over your refined cultural dialect. However, I wouldn’t go around blindly repeating every phrase that came out of James Gandolfini’s mouth. Let’s just say the 90s were a different time and leave it at that.