by Francesca Mosca – Torino, Italia
As everyone knows, Italian food is one of the best things in the entire world. When you visit the Beautiful Country, you could eat all day for at least 15 days without repeating the same meal. We don’t just eat pizza and pasta!
Depending on the different regions, we have so many varieties of food and specialties. Near the sea, it is very common to enjoy fish dishes: grilled, fried or accompanied by pasta or vegetables; you can be sure the fish is always fresh and gorgeous. In the North, you will find more rustic dishes, maybe with mushrooms or special kinds of meat, like boar or venison. They are very common in the Alps, the big mountain chain in the middle of the Europe.
The meals can vary a lot according to the season. In the summer, you can enjoy delicious handmade ice creams (remember the ice cream store Grom, the famous chain that actually owns shops in all the parts of the world, born in Torino, a wonderful – since it is mine 😉 – city in the North-West of Italy), or simple dishes of Caprese salad (mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, with some fresh basil leaves), or appetizing sandwiches with the sweet Italian ham called “prosciutto crudo” and fresh cheese like “stracchino”.
On the other hand, in the winter you have the possibility of tasting exquisite hot Gianduja chocolates, with the typical flavor of the Italian hazelnuts (the same as Nutella!), cornmeal mushes, polenta, with melted cheese and a lot of butter or with sausages and tomatoes sauce.
One of my favorite Italian food is surely “gnocchi alla bava”, which the literal translation is like cooked with saliva; since I love eating them with the “fontina” cheese, a special kind of cheese that when it is melted is very stringy. I know, in your imagination it might not sound so inviting, but trust me: those that my grandfather prepares are the best gnocchi you could ever taste!
Gnocchi are very easy to cook: you need only potatoes (usually 1kg for 4 people) and flour, the amount you require, and a pinch of salt. After boiling the potatoes, you have to peel them and press with a fork; in Italy we have a special utensil to do this, but I think it is very hard to find it abroad. Knead the salted potatoes with some flour, keeping in mind that the less you add, the more savory is the result. Then form the dough into some cylinders, like salami with a diameter of 1.5 cm, cut them in small pieces, maybe of 2 cm length. Now, the funnest part arrives: you have to roll each “gnocco” on a fork to make the characteristic signs on the top, one by one. When I was a child, I always used to help my grandparents in this operation and it was a source of great fun for me and my cousins.
Gnocchi is a very cheap and simple dish, so you can try to make them and then visit any place in Italy to be sure that your result was good!