SOFT BUT PLEASANTLY CHEWY, THAT IT FROLICS IN BETWEEN EVERY BITE WITH THE UPMOST PLAYFUL RESISTANCE
Light. Airy. Delicate. Cloud-like.
See, surely these are rules best to dictate cotton candies and runway models.
But, in my opinion, not for gnocchi.
I know, I know. Who am I – an Asian who grew up in North America – to judge gnocchi, an inarguably Italian prerogative guarded by some very defensive if not hostile Italian grandmothers. To some, if I am ever entitled to an opinion then it should only be on chop suey or somethin’, certainly not this heritage pasta sacredly given by the ancient Roman Gods. Hey, I know! I agree!, or at least I used to, which was why I never complained every time I was served with a plate of texture-less and borderline-mushy “clouds”, in Rome or Nice and etcetera might I add, and nodded in compliance like a team-player. “Yes, Mandy. These mashy semisolids are intentional and authentic. Now shut up and eat them. Gollum Gollum”. I truly tried.
You see, close-minded it may seem, but I come from a place where any flour-involved, savory carbohydrates have to have, a chew.
Whether it’s hand-pulled xi’an noodles, the delicate wrappers of dim sum dumplings, or hand-shaped fresh pastas and whatnots, no matter. No chew, shameful personal failure of the cook. Doesn’t matter if it was the long-term habit that shaped my preference, or the other way around, it’s the same thing. I just like’em chewy.
So as time went on, a quiet rebellion came when I first found out about this “French” gnocchi business. It’s a pâte à choux type of dough that yields a firmer, chewier and springy form of gnocchi, which were much more relatable and appreciated by my (ok angry nonna, I’ll say it myself) narrow-minded Asian taste-buds. It was a vote of endorsement that said, hey there is actually a market out there for a texturally different type of gnocchi and it isn’t going to get me burnt alive on a stick in the middle of a piazza. It was encouraging, although, not enough to push me to commit recipe-social-suicide, to turn the idea of gnocchi upside down. Until, unfortunately, the real affirmation came a few weeks ago during one innocent gathering with friends, when one of them ever-so-harmlessly mentioned…
“I’ve never like the soft, fluffy gnocchi. I prefer the chewier type”, he said.