How to refuse when Peppa calls us to ask, “Ho fatto gnocchi oggi. Venite a cena? (“I made gnocchi today – coming to dinner?”)
Si, Peppa. Subito.
What a sauce Peppa had made for those gnocchi: her olive oil, a bit of onion, tomatoes from her garden, a basil leaf or two, joined “pezzetti di vari carni” (tidbits of various meats”). Which ones? Goose, beef, chicken, pork.
A simple vino rosso was a perfect accompaniment, though not Peppa’s but that of a rural neighbor: this year, her sons had decided it was time to “retire” their vineyard as their mamma is seventy-seven now.
Peppa’s portions were overly-generous, as always. (Peppa does not understand “un poco, per favore“). I enjoyed the abundant goodness for Peppa had told us there would just be gnocchi “e un po’ di insalata.”
To not offend Peppa, I tasted a bit of her potatoes and zucchini roasted with bits of meat. She tried to give me more of the roast, of course, but I had actually believed – a lapsus on my part! – that “just gnocchi” would be our dinner.
…and we prepared our plates with the usual fare la scarpetta (“make the little slipper”), using bread to sop up the sauce of the gnocchi. For the Italian palate, no mixing of flavors.
Watermelon and a Peppa sweet followed. I helped her clear the table but knew that the tablecloth had to stay on the table, the breadcrumbs on it remaining. For Umbria’s more elderly rural people, no tablecloths can be taken outside to shake after the Ave Maria.
In the past, the ringing of the church bells at 6 pm – marking sunset, the end of the day – signaled for the farm people all around the moment to recite the “Hail, Mary.” A sacred moment. No washing could be brought in after 6 p.m. and none could be hung out. No tablecloth could be taken outside and shaken out.
Bringing a wash in after the Ave Maria – like shaking a tablecloth outside after 6 p.m.- would have brought the malocchio (“evil eye”) on the family.
Read more the malocchio
Read about eating with Peppa, never “just a bite”
Read about a Peppa grape harvest – and see our grape harvest in 1975!