Recipe – Italian

Folk Recipe-Grandma’s Famous Gnocchi

Every year around New Years, my grandma comes over to make her favorite meal.  Coincidentally, it is everyone’s favorite meal.  The whole family comes over, my cousins, aunts, uncles, and everyone.  She makes her special Italian meal.  Gnocchi and marinara.  It takes her hours to prepare it, a little because she’s so serious about each detail, but also because she just makes so much of it.  She does it by hand, and she is 88 years old.  She buys the potatoes from this special Italian store.  I don’t think they are really special potatoes in any way, but she has done it forever.  She doesn’t really let anyone besides my mom help her, but I try to sneak in and get some clues.  When we sit down to eat, we all say this Italian prayer.  My grandmother leads it and we all follow along.  Since we are Italian, we just dig in and eat right after.  I love leftovers, but there never are any.

This is a great story about how food and tradition can bring family together.  Jonathan, my friend from junior tennis, invited me over for one of these family occasions one time.  It was fantastic and made me feel Italian for the evening.  He said he first experienced this when he was seven, and it continued ever since.  He is not sure where his grandma found her recipe, but it comes all from memorization.  Lastly, I asked him what he thought of the New Years meal, and he said, “ I wish New Years was everyday because of that gnocchi. It just tastes so good.  It makes it kinda special though that its only once a year”.

Grandma’s meal symbolizes more than just a great dinner.  It represents the meaning of Italian for the Spero family.  I think if it was done more often, it would lose its’ meaning.  Although everyone says they come because of the food, I firmly believe it is more than that.  It is about the family and relationships they have.  The gnocchi is just an excuse for everyone to see grandma.  I think it makes her feel unique and special.

The preparation of the gnocchi is quite interesting.  She uses potatoes only from the Italian store, but they aren’t different from normal potatoes.  This ritual makes the gnocchi seem more authentic, and makes grandma confident in the taste.  The fact that she only lets Jonathan’s mother assist her in the process signifies a passing down of the recipe to the next woman in the family.  I believe the mother will continue this tradition far after the grandmother passes.

In addition, the Italian prayer adds one more link to the family’s heritage.  The whole occasion gives the Spero’s a sense of identity and strengthens their connection with Italy.