I have a wildly stereotypical view of Italy.
I blame this on the books of Frances Mayes, commercials for espresso machines and the Italian World Cup Squad.
In my imagination – Italy is cathedrals and cascading hair. It’s all zippy little scooters and red wine that flows like…wine, ruggedly handsome men who call you, ‘bella’, mounds of cacio e pepe eaten al fresco and Black Marias.
You know, teeny Italian grandmas, clad in all black. Rosary in one hand, wooden spoon in the other and the evil eye glaring out at you from a second story window.
I never understood why they were so grumpy. How could one possibly be cantankerous when living in Italy – a magical wonderland of gelato, glowing cherubs and glorious cheese?
Then, I tried making gnocchi and I understood that special level of pain.
Goal # 10 on my 29 Before 29 was to make gnocchi from scratch. How hard could it be? After all, it only has four ingredients – potatoes, flour, salt and olive oil.
The list of ingredients might be short, but making gnocchi is a painstaking process that takes all afternoon, swallows up every ounce of your patience and leaves your kitchen in abject disarray.
No wonder the little Italian Mee-Maws are perpetually cranky. If this was how I spent my life, I would be too.
Good gnocchi is a thing of beauty – light and fluffy little potato dumplings, pan-crisped until golden brown, served with a shockingly verdant pesto and lush curls of parmesan cheese.
Our gnocchi was not this ethereal. Our gnocchi consisted of starchy, leaden lumps that carpet-bombed my stomach and announced squatter’s rights for days before succumbing to digestion.
They were so bad that not even garlic could save them…and garlic is pretty much the Superman of the culinary world.
So, Goal # 10 to make gnocchi like Fabio Vivani’s grandma?
The jury’s out on it — I made gnocchi…but I can say with relative certainty that it was nothing like the gnocchi Fabio’s grandmother made.
And if it was? Man, she was a lousy cook.