What is a semester in Rome without a couple pasta nights?! Under the organization and direction of the amazing Laura and Anna Rita, we were able to have two memorable and delicious nights of gnocchi, fettuccine, and ravioli making (and eating). Personally, it was quite unbelievable seeing our class working together so well and efficiently on pasta making when it seemed like an impossible feat to get everyone together to make a site model.
Gnocchi night was the first of two pasta nights. Gnocchi is a traditional Italian pasta type, and although we often think of potatoes as a key ingredient in gnocchi, the use of potato is a relatively recent innovation (16th century) to give it a lighter texture. Anna Rita and Laura had made many preparations before we arrived; they had already cooked the potatoes and grated them so the students were in charge of kneading the dough and forming the gnocchi.
After a quick demonstration that Anna Rita gave on how to properly knead the dough, we quickly got to work. It wasn’t nearly as effortless as she had made it look, although we did have a lot of fun…
The hardest part about kneading the dough was making sure it had the right texture and a pliable consistency. While some of us continued to knead the dough, others began to roll the ones that were ready into lengths that can be cut into individual gnocchi. We then indented each of these gnocchi with our fingers to create the perfect looking batch. Pretty soon, we had an efficient assembly line going on with a group of people kneading, a group rolling and cutting, and a group pressing and collecting the finished gnocchi onto baking sheets.
Everyone had an accomplished look on their faces when we saw the endless rows of gnocchi spread out on the tin trays, and we couldn’t wait to eat them! Once again, with the planning of Anna Rita and Laura, the sauces and aperitifs had already been prepared and everyone was ready to eat. Anna Rita reminded us to pace ourselves as she had prepared several sauces for us to try with the gnocchi.
The dishes were delicious. It was like a war zone to see us crowd around the pasta bowl each time a new type of sauce was brought out. The dinner was accompanied by wine and soda, and followed by dessert. I would say this was the most exciting and accomplished dinner I’ve had in Italy!
Today we had fettuccine and ravioli night. It seems as if most of us are a lot more experienced at kneading dough already! Just like last time, everything went smoothly with the preparations by Anna Rita and Laura as well as our efficient teamwork. Here are some pictures from tonight: