Before I met Marco and learned more about Italian tradition and culture, I thought that Italians were the most laid-back people. Don’t we all have the image of them riding comfortably on their Vespas with a little beep of the horn saying “Ciao” to passersby? Aren’t they the lovers of life that have the warm brown eyes and olive tan skin? Don’t they have the dramatic music that just makes you want to relax?
Now, don’t get me wrong. . . I think that all the above is true. Italians have a nice style of life, enjoy the best food and wine, and take life a little less frantically than we Americans. But, one thing I learned over the years that might seem contradictory, is that Italians follow a very structured routine in their daily, weekly and seasonal lives. They eat breakfast the same way and the same time. The lunch meal is such a structured routine that shops and businesses close down to honor the time. And, you can almost tell the time of the day by the times that people go out to stroll the downtown corso or walk to get a gelato. There are nights that one goes out with friends, nights that are traditional for couples, and Italians follow the seasonal festivities to a tee including the traditional meals!
Which brings me to gnocchi. Marco grew up in Cremona where it was traditional for everyone to have gnocchi on Friday. I asked his parents about this and they really weren’t sure why, but they said that the older generation still does this. They thought, perhaps, that it had to do with religion. Nevertheless, in other parts of Italy, Thursday is the day of gnocchi, Friday the day for fish, and Saturday is meat day. Regardless, you will find that Italy as a culture is pretty homogeneous and follows well-worn traditions of food and culture.
The gnocchi pictured above is simply a marriage of Marco’s homemade gnocchi (click here) and Adelina’s Bolognese recipe (click here) that I had left over in the freezer. It’s a wonderfully simple and body warming meal for these waning days of winter! Simply boil the gnocchi in water until the float to the surface, mix with the bolognese, shred some parmesan on top and serve!