One of my first memories of being a complete “Americani” in Italy was one time when I asked my friends to meet me at a restaurant in Milano called Gigli. What stood me apart from the Italians was my pronounciation: “Gig-li” – similar to “giggles.” In the Italian language, the g can be silent – as it is when used in ‘gli.’
This brings me to Gnocchi because I was always confused about its pronounciation until the moment I learned about the silent ‘g.’ This ‘gn’ is pronounced with your tongue pressing against the entire top of your mouth as opposed to the normal ‘n’ which is pronounced with the tip of your tongue on the back of your teeth. Confusing, but the difference is there.
Gnocchi is the Italian name for a variety of thick, soft noddle or dumpling. They may be made from semolina, wheat flour, potato, bread crumbs, or other ingredients.It’s been a traditional Italian pasta type since Roman times. It was introduced by the Roman Legions during the enormous expansion of the empire into the countries of the European continent. In the past 2000 years countries have developed their own specific type of small dumplings, with the ancient Gnocchi as their common ancestor. The use of potato is a relatively recent innovation, occurring after the introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th century, which is something interesting to know since most Americans associate gnocchi with potatoes.
Gnocchi are eaten as entrees (primi piatti) in Italy or as alternatives to minestre (soups) or pasta. Gnocchi are widely available dried, frozen, or fresh in vacuum sealed packages in nearly all supermarkets in NYC. Classic accompaniments of gnocchi include tomato sauce, pesto, and melted butter with cheese.
Last night, for instance, MM and I made gnocchi with tomato sauce and pesto…molto bene