The indescribable truth of gnocchi

Though frequently slotted into the “pasta” section of restaurant menus, gnocchi deserves its own category — not least because, according to Saveur, gnocchi predates pasta by centuries.

Comparisons are natural. The South China Morning Post points to Alan Davidson the Oxford Companion to Food, in which he writes that due to the similar dough of water and flour, as well as a similar way of serving them, drizzled with similar sauces, it is no wonder that we confuse the two categories of starch. Even Italians can’t tell the difference: In Venice, Saveur says, gnocchi is also sometimes known as “macaroni,” and to add insult to injury, private chef Deborah Dal Fovo says to Lifehacker that there is a food called “gnocchetti”. “which is much more like pasta than the tender gnocchi we know and love.

For Katie Barreira, director of MyRecipes’ test kitchen, however, the difference is clear: Technically, gnocchi is not pasta but rather a dumpling. That said, even she wonders a bit if such a categorization is clear or helpful. “I would put… gnocchi in the dumpling camp from a culinary definition standpoint,” she tells the outlet, “but it’s treated like pasta — from how it’s cooked, to the sauce, and where it lands on a menu.”