The history of gnocchi

Like many foods, gnocchi has several different regions that lay claim to inventing it. While we may not understand exactly where it originated, we do know that various forms of gnocchi have existed for centuries, says Emiko Davies of indexed magazine Saveur.

The popular potato version didn't exist until about the seventeenth century,  when Spanish explorers brought the tubers back from South America. Gnocchi made from other starches has been around much longer, however. "In fifteenth century Lombardy, gnocchi made of bread, milk, and ground almonds were called zanzarelli. In his 1570 cookbook, Bartolomeo Scappi has a recipe for "gnocchi" made from a dough of flour and breadcrumbs mixed with water and pushed through the holes of a cheese grater."

Gnocchi has also been made from corn meal, chestnut flour, pumpkin, ricotta, and other starches and vegetables. The word itself "is thought to come from nocca, which means knuckles, or from the Lombard word knohha, which means knot (such as wood knot) or walnut-all words that imply the small, tight, rounded shape of gnocchi that we know today."

The EYB Library has over 400 different gnocchi recipes, including the Ricotta and egg gnocchi with olives, capers, and tomato sauce from Saveur pictured above.

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