It is practically impossible to discuss gnocchi without invoking the p-word. Not “potato,” its historic main ingredient, but the aspirational “pillow.”
The dumpling derivatives have been made for hundreds of years. Potato gnocchi began as Italian peasant food that required few components, little time and maybe one hand-powered piece of equipment. It has been universally embraced in its boot-shape native land, north to south, where provincial gastronomic divisions are the norm.
When you grow up eating the gnocchi your family put on the table, it becomes the gold standard. Order it at a number of restaurants, and you start to appreciate the better versions.
Then, when you least expect it, a transcendent forkful sends your kitchen brain into overdrive. It can initiate a quest into whys and wherefores that prompts tuberous hoarding and habitual flour dusting.
For guidance, Bonnie Benwick of The Washington Post turned to the professionals. For details, read Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Food section.