November 8, 2007

Thursday and gnocchi

This is Italy and it always comes back to food and food rules.

This morning Paolo, my 30-something hairdresser, interrupted the drying process to ask his colleague, "What day is it today?" When she answered, "Thursday," he nodded, turned back on the hairdryer and made a mental note outloud to himself, "gnocchi today and fish tomorrow." I smiled and asked if he always had gnocchi on Thursdays. He thought for a moment and acknowledged that he foregoes the routine in the summertime (because of the heat and potential digestion problems), but for the rest of the year he faithfully has gnocchi on Thursdays, and fish on Fridays -- this is just the way things are.

This evening I stopped by Pina's shop -- the social center of Monte Verde Vecchio -- to pick up some bread. She had castagnaccio out for the first time and everyone in line was a buzz -- Fall and castagnaccio go together and we were all excited at the novità. Then a nicely-dressed woman popped her head in to change her order for tomorrow, "Pina, no mussels for tommorrow, just the clams -- if they are small and sweet." Ahhh yes, tomorrow is Friday and orders have been placed.
We may find Starbucks in the piazzas of the historic center as a sign of change in our coffee habits, but when will Italians stop eating gnocchi on Thursdays and fish on Fridays?

a domani,


Anonymous said...

In a book written by a friend of mine who teaches at "The Greg" (Jesuit Thelogical Institute), in the section dedicated to Globalization and Holiness I came across a wonderful quote that so reminds me of you, Larc, and your worthy efforts to offer some meaning and order to the chaos... in our case, of expat and indeed well-beyond-expat experience: "In the words of the classic American 1980s bumper sticker, we must 'think globally, act locally'."

How well this describes this article: the local, but within a far greater context for those of your readers who desire to plunge deeper.

For those who swim shallower waters, you at least offer a way to simplify our too-complex existence: in this case, the tasty simplicity of Italian tradition.

Gnocchi on Thursday? You bet! Basic dish, that goes well with almost any sort of covering, complex or otherwise.


Andrea said...

Being as I am in Texas (originally from NY) my grandmother (Nona) still eats like this. I don't think in my entire childhood did I eat anything but Fish on Friday. Gnocchi was a rare occasion on a Thursday, but on special occasions... always! I think it has something to do with Good Friday. You need to be full on Thursday night, to hold you over a day without eating meat?

Elizabeth Abbot said...

Andrea, I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.