While most conjure mental images of various noodle dishes when they think of Italian cuisine, bowls full of light, pillowy, bite-sized gnocchi have become increasingly popular on menus around the country in recent years. Yes, pasta may always reign supreme for Italians – but the popularity of different shapes and variety of ingredients used in creating the dough is constantly expanding our palates. And after all, what is gnocchi if not a riff on traditional pasta?
In this installment of our series cracking the code on how to correctly pronounce tricky culinary terms, we’ll dive deep into the history, culture, and misconceptions about gnocchi.
Read on to discover everything you need to know in order to appropriately contextualize this dish, determine once and for all how to pronounce it, and maybe even discover a recipe you’ll want to experiment with in order to deepen your appreciation of this often misunderstood dish.
Introduction and Common Mispronunciations
Gnocchi is classified as a dumpling, but diverges from the roots of traditional pasta – flour and egg – with the addition of one simple ingredient: potatoes. Boiled and then run through a ricer or sieve in order to transform the potato into fine, fluffy snow, it’s combined with flour, egg, and perhaps salt, in order to create a soft dough.
Once it’s the right consistency, gnocchi dough is typically rolled into long strings, cut into small pieces, and then rolled over the tines of a fork to create ridges before it’s boiled and tossed with your sauce of choice.
Gnocchi is an unassuming base, pairing well with any flavor profile it’s offered–pesto, tomato sauce, creamy cheese sauce, or decadent truffle are all commonly used to elevate gnocchi to an entrée you’re sure to dream of for weeks to come.
The variety of mispronunciations you’ll hear for gnocchi are just as diverse, if not decidedly less delectable. People commonly trip over the g and struggle to navigate the “chi” sound.
Common mispronunciations include:
So where does this dish come from and how do we correctly pronounce it when ordering at a restaurant?
Gnocchi’s Origin Story and Etymology
As is the case with many foods, a number of regions in Italy claim to be the birthplace of gnocchi. While the true home is somewhat hard to determine, it’s generally believed to be a food from the northern region of the peninsula, though similar dumplings made with different ingredients – ricotta, pumpkin, spinach – have been found in culinary traditions across the country.
Deriving from the Italian word for knuckles, nocca, or knot, nocchio, it eventually evolved to its current singular form: gnoccho, which means dumpling or lump.
In order to pronounce gnocchi in a way that would impress its Italian forefathers, simply soften the g and c sounds: nyow-key.
Now you’re ready to order the dish with confidence and grace at your favorite Italian restaurant! If you’d rather become better acquainted by trying to make gnocchi for yourself, consider trying out one of these recipes. Buon appetito!