Gnocchi is one of the most popular preparations around the world as they constitute a very simple and filling dish that is suitable for any kind of seasoning.We can define gnocchi as small pieces of dough, usually round in shape, which are boiled in water or broth and then served with various sauces.Dish of ancient origins, gnocchi can be prepared with different flours: wheat flour, rice, semola and they can be made with potatoes, bread or vegetables. The word gnocchi may derive from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood or from nocca (meaning knuckle). It has been a traditional Italian pasta type of probably Middle Eastern origin since Roman times. It was introduced by the Roman legions during the enormous expansion of the empire into the countries of the European continent. In the past 2,000 years, each country developed its own specific type of small dumplings, with the ancient gnocchi as their common ancestor. In Roman times, gnocchi were made from a semolina porridge-like dough mixed with eggs, and are still found in similar forms today, particularly the oven-baked gnocchi alla romana and Sardinia‘s malloreddus (although these do not contain eggs).In ancient times there were already some varieties of gnocchi that could be found especially in Lombardia (North of Italy, regional capital Milan). These gnocchi were mixed with bread crumbs, milk and almonds. They were called Zanzarelli. In the seventeenth century, however, the original recipe underwent changes in both the composition of ingredients and in its name. It took the name of malfatti and it was added flour, water and eggs instead of almonds and bread.The origins of potato gnocchi are to be found in the period in which the potatoes were imported from the Americas to Europe. Of course, today it is the most common and appreciated variety. Potato gnocchi are particularly popular in Abruzzo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Ciociaria and other provinces of Latium. As for other mashed potato dishes they are best prepared with floury potatoes to keep a light texture. However, for each variety of dumplings existed different colors given by using particular ingredients. For example, if kneaded with beetroots and spinach, gnocchi took a characteristic green color, while, with the addition of pumpkin, the color became yellow. From 1880, the potato gnocchi began to spread like wildfire and slowly all the other varieties disappeared.While gnocchi is most commonly referred to as an Italian dish with mainly Italian origins, it is important to know the importance of the dish in other countries, namely in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These countries had a high percentage of Italian immigrants at the start of the 20th century who brought gnocchi dishes along with them. Gnocchi became so popular here that a sort of holiday was created in its honor. This is a monthly “holiday” that occurs on the 29th day of each month, and it is called “Noquis del 29” or “Gnocchi of the 29th.” In Rome, gnocchi is a traditional dish traditionally eaten on Thursdays; following the dictum “gnocchi on Thursday, fish on Friday (or” chickpeas and salt cod “) and tripe on Saturdays.” There are still ancient hostarie and trattorie where the tradition is followed. Well known is the Roman saying “Laugh, laugh, that mum made gnocchi” (using the “i” as an article, and not “Gli” how the Italian grammar dictates. The proverb emphasizes the importance of Thursday as an almost festive day, which requires a tasty and filling dish that anticipates the lean eating on the next day). The tradition of gnocchi varies across Italian cities. In fact, in the Campania region the traditional day for gnocchi is Sunday. In Verona, a plate of gnocchi with tomato sauce is traditionally consumed “Venàrdi Gnocolàr” which is the day of the Carnival parade. Gnoco’s Dad is the name of the main carnival mask.
* some info were taken from wikipedia uk and giallo zafferano it