YinDayajmeH ‘oy’ yISIQ - To understand life, endure pain - Klingon Proverb.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi. Recipe in highlights.
Though gnocchi is prepared and eaten all over Italy, it is said to originate from Northern Italy, and prior to the introduction of potatoes from the Americas to Europe, gnocchi, meaning either “knuckle”, “wood knot” or “chestnut”, was made with bread, flour, and/or nuts, and cheese. Throughout Italy, gnocchi may vary in name, ingredients, and shape, depending on the region and its specialty.
I started making gnocchi 12 years ago, starting with cookbook recipes and more recently with the Pasta Grannies videos on YouTube. Even if you don’t make gnocchi, it’s fun to watch the Grannies. Real Nonnas sharing years of experience is a revelation of social media and its benefits to mankind.
As a serious and not-so-serious home cook, I gain joy from learning from previous generations of home cooks. More than cute little grandmothers with adorable stories, they are us, maybe cooler and tougher than their external appearance suggests.
Stories of milking cows and churning butter may sound like darling pastoral fables of bygone eras, but there is nothing sweet about the daily labours of running a household and raising families through times of austerity, crisis, and revolutions.
Life wasn’t as long as it is now. Infant mortality was high in our more recent past. Men were often wounded or lost to war and returned scarred, some seen and much hidden. Diseases that are now treatable either altered or took lives too early.
In between all of that, meals had to be served, for both survival and cheer, always in gratitude.
Reading about history is informative but seeing it through the lens of those who have witnessed it is visceral.
Homey foods, like gnocchi, makes me wish for conversations with elders of the Italian culture, not just as a student of food, but in honour of the lives they’ve lived.
I’m not Italian, but does that matter in the context of empathy for others and appreciation for life?
The mortal coil knows no borders or colour; it is the mettle with which many of us are made, hungry for life, hungry for dinner, hungry for conversation.