Origin of Gnocchi

by Mike Webster

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photo by Neco Garnica

The original recipe is thought to have originated in the Middle East and although no-one can be sure when Italian gnocchi were first made, the earliest written mentions appear in 14th century Italian cookery manuscripts.

The Italian word gnocchi translates to lumps, but it is thought the name may have come from the word nocchio which means a knot in the wood or possibly from nocca which means knuckle. It should be noted that the word gnocchi is plural and refers to several gnocco (singular) however, the singular word is hardly ever used and the word gnocchi is often used in the singular.

Gnocchi became a staple dish in Italy and was gradually introduced by the Romans to other countries in Europe during their many conquests and over time, many countries developed their own type of small dumplings from the earliest gnocchi recipes. Gnocchi is more common in Northern Italy but can be found in other regions of Italy; similar dishes are served in other countries as well. While Florence is home to gnocchi, it is fabled to be so good that gluttonous priests have been known to choke from eating too fast – the infamous strozzapreti (priest-stranglers). Continue reading