Gnocchi Day. This little phrase is something that most people who are close to me have heard before. In Argentina, my family celebrates Gnocchi Day on the 29th of every month. This results in a huge family dinner with fresh homemade gnocchi and various sauces. My abuela perches up in the kitchen for hours on end kneading dough, cutting the individual pieces, rolling them on a wooden tablet so they all have exactly the same consistency. She has to do this because they cook so rapidly that if they are not the same it will be hard to cook them properly.
Sauces are a morning activity, they are easily reheated, so it is easier to get those out of the way first, unlike the dough that ages poorly if not dealt with immediately. Marinara sauce, tomato and meat sauce, alfredo sauce, and my own personal favorite, cream and butter sauce.
Once the morning has passed and the sauces are made, this is usually when people start arriving. First come those that are also able in the kitchen who promised to help, abuela always declines, but it makes her feel better that they asked. Then come those that had to drive the furthest, they had to account for traffic, so they arrive a tad early just in case. Then come all the cousins.
My favorite part of any Hispanic family gathering is that we are constantly meeting new people. A new cousin or great aunt or third cousin twice removed is always showing up to make their debut. With such a large group of people, the men will usually grill about half a cow’s worth of meat on the grill (yes this is a real way that we measure an amount of meat, it’s not JUST funny). Someone will bring an empanada pie and various other family members bring whatever they feel is appropriate.
The big moment arrives! Gnocchi’s are ready and we all sit to eat. It usually takes about 6–7 tables to seat everyone, but also, I have never attended an event with more than one portion of the family at a time, so I don’t really know how many of us there are.
Eating a meal with your family here in the United States is always fun. Someone brings a salad, sometimes burgers. However never in my time here have I experienced the same sense of togetherness as I have on a Gnocchi day in Buenos Aires. The sheer volume is something to be reckoned with, but time itself seems to seize existing for just a little while. Blink and it is 4am, tine to find a couch to crash on, if you are lucky enough not to get the floor.
I have never felt in an environment in which it is so safe to eat. To eat and be loved and also yelled at all at the same time.
I have been looking into the idea of travel writing for a little bit of time now. Traveling is something that will always have my heart, and I have been blessed enough to have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot. But as I have looked into the idea of it, I realized that few places in the world even have travel writing as a career. It is most definitely growing, but a bit delayed in comparison to the U.S. I don’t think I even heard of it much growing up in Argentina, most of the people who left never came back.
I like to think that it is because this culture that a lot of western states are searching for has already been found in the rich cuisine and culture connection of Latin America, India, Thailand, etc. Don’t get me wrong, community and connection are hardly nonexistent in Northern America, I suppose from my experiences, the cultures impact the sense of belonging in a very different way. Perhaps America is searching for it and we could all use a little Gnocchi to nurture some togetherness.