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History of Gnocchi



Go to:   How to make Gnocchi  |    Main History Index Page  |  History of World Cuisines

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.


Origin of Gnocchi

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.


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.


However, it didn’t stop there. Gnocchi was introduced to South America by Italian immigrants during the early 20th  Century and quickly became integrated into many South American cuisines including in Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela and most notably in Argentina where today the 29th of every month has been designated Dia de Ñoquis (Gnocchi Day). The 29th was chosen because it was usually the last day before pay day so many people had run out of money. Gnocchi was the perfect meal as not only was it  cheap but it was also filling. It is customary to place a coin under the plate whilst eating to encourage prosperity.


Similarly, Italian migration to North America saw an increase in Italian restaurants, many of which would have had a favoured gnocchi recipe on the menu.


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