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May '08

Fork Required: Celebrate National Gnocchi Day in Your Home

John Travolta may have said it best in the movie, Pulp Fiction, “It’s the little differences…”

One of the things that makes travel enlightening (whether it’s a trip from Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC eating regional barbecue along the way or a longer journey to India, Morocco, Korea, Malaysia, or Fiji sampling local foods and flavors) are all those little differences.

When you travel, all the common daily signposts of your everyday life are replaced at every turn with (sometimes slightly, sometimes vastly) different options and opportunities.

You can’t just pop down to your default neighborhood restaurant after work, absentmindedly order the daily special, and bolt right after finishing; because there is no default, everyday way of doing things the first time one visits somewhere new. There is no “regular’ or “the usual” to order.

There’s just you: having a fresh experience with a new place: learning to navigate new customs, people, and ideas; and in a way, made more than a little new yourself by the encounter.

As the American author of the food blog, From Argentina With Love writes about her experience with one of the “little differences” she encountered on visits to her husband’s home country:

“This is how I knew I was going to fall in love with Argentina:

Argentinos eat gnocchi together on the 29th of every month, and it’s a national holiday.

Excuse me while I swoon.

Yes, that’s right–people all over the country get together on the same day every month just to eat gnocchi. Now, that’s my idea of a national holiday! I didn’t grow up with any sort of food traditions that are celebrated like this on a national level. But in Argentina, the tradition is that on the 29th day of each and every month, one is supposed to eat gnocchi. Okay, twist my arm…

Argentinos are fond of the expression ‘a full belly, a happy heart,’ and on the 29th they prepare Ñoquis (as they spell it) at home and invite friends over to share the meal; it’s also quite common to find ñoquis on the menu in restaurants on this day. Either way, diners end up both full and happy.”

You can read more of her post about her experiences eating gnocchi on the 29th, (as well as her recipe for gnocchi) here.

You might also want to read Heidi Swanson’s informative post on How to Make Gnocchi Like an Italian Grandmother here.

More than 20 million Argentinos have at least one Italian forefather, making Italians the largest ethnic group in Argentina (giving them the third largest concentration of people of Italian origin in the world).

As a result of this concentration, food influenced by Italian cuisine is popular and readily available in most parts of Argentina.

Uruguay, Argentina’s tiny neighbor to the east, also celebrates gnocchi day each 29th. 1.5 million people in Uruguay are of Italian ancestry, (almost half of its population) so Italian cuisine exerts a large culinary influence there as well.

Question: What “little differences” have you found on your travels (whether around the world or to the next town) and how did they change you?

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