My first experience with gnocchi was when I was around ten years old. Whenever I conquered some triumphant victory, like a long night of explaining whether radish plants grow faster with Fiji Water or Smart Water at a sixth grade Science Fair, my family and I would feast on the endless breadsticks and Shrimp Alfredo at our beloved Olive Garden. I remember asking my waiter after being convinced by my parents to “try something different”…
“Excuse me. What is Chicken GAH-Nah-Chi?”
I didn’t know any better.
Cornell in Rome’s Gnocchi (pronounced Ny-ooh-KEY) Night was a comforting experience for me. I knew that going abroad a semester to another country was going to challenge me in ways I didn’t quite expect. I knew I’d have to prepare myself each day to say something wrong at the Bar across the street and I knew that I’d have to find creative solutions when my hair care products ran out. I didn’t expect to miss slow, family styled meals so much. Not only was the meal filling for my stomach, it was filling for my soul.
I’m a huge advocate for slowly prepared “things”. This DIY style of creating provides an element of rawness and honesty in the final product. Making gnocchi is definitely a PROCESS. From the kneading and rolling of the dough on a flour covered table to the individual rolling of each “dumpling”, elbow grease and heart went into the preparation.
The meal was absolutely filling. Bowl after bowl were placed on the makeshift dining table in our conference table. At this point in the semester I was definitely in a rut when it came to my diet and all of dishes were unique and abundant. Gnocchi is extremely versatile as an ingredient. We ate until we could not eat anymore.
Most of all I really enjoyed how simple the concept was. Students coming together, laughing, and eating a well worked for meal. Even though gnocchi may not typically be at my dinner table, little things like this bring the feeling of home just a bit closer.