Gnocchi di patate

Red, russet, and Yukon gold potatoes, 2 lb
Flour, 1¼ cups
Salt, ½ tsp
Nutmeg, a pinch
Parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated, ½ cup
Egg yolks, 4

1. Boil potatoes. Cool until warm and put through ricer into bowl.  
2. Mix with parmigiano, salt, nutmeg and egg yolks.  
3. Knead flour into dough.  
4. Divide into eight pieces. Roll into ropes. Cut into 1-inch pieces, and roll each over fork tines.  
5. Dry for at least twenty minutes.  
6. Bring a pot of salted water to boiling and add gnocchi.  
7. When gnocchi float to the top, cook for two minutes longer, about five minutes total.
8. Drain and toss with sauce of your choice. 

The story:
We most often eat gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce and sometimes homemade meatballs. My grandmother served them with sausage and beef, and our Italian friend Tonia served them with artichoke heart cream sauce. When I was seven, my parents led a group of college students touring Italy for three weeks.
World traveller, the early years
We started out in the Abruzzo region, staying with families in the tiny, beautiful towns of Torre di Passeri and Tocco da Casauria, and we returned there several times in my childhood. (We even named two of our dogs after Tocco.) 
On one trip, we met Tonia who had been assigned to interpret for my father. She later lived with my family while studying in New York (I was about 14 at the time). While Tonia was living with us, she made gnocchi, a production which resulted in flour from floor to ceiling and one end of the kitchen to the other (and which could still be found in small patches, here and there, months later). After leaving Copenhagen in 2003, I visited her in Milan for a few weeks and ate decadently - penne baked in a gorgonzola sauce, pizza quattro stagioni, lovely lunches on the shores of Lago di Como and Lago di Garda, fruit salads of strawberry and kiwi every night after dinner, and fresh cups of espresso brewed on the stove every few hours. 
A few years later - almost ten
The best of '80s children's fashion, c. 1989 
years after the flour explosion - I visited Milan again with a friend from Oxford. When Tonia asked what we wanted to eat, gnocchi immediately came to mind. This time, she brought home some freshly prepared ones from the market and served them with a light fresh tomato sauce and a pinch of her father's homemade paprika. We loved the paprika so much that she wrapped a few jars for us to take home. When we landed in London and opened the suitcase, a cloud of searing heat rose up to greet us (and the unfortunate traveller sleeping stretched out across some chairs nearby). One of the jars had cracked en route and, although the others were salvaged (and lovingly used over the next year), it was a very long, uncomfortable trip home that night!

Tocco (II) the dog, May 1999
Tocco the town

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