Anne's Blog

Gnocchi with Peppa…..Without the Malocchio

Date: August 20, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , , , , - 5 Comments

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.

The recipe? There isn’t one. Logicamente.

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.”


You’d think after years of often eating with our friend Peppa, I’d know what to expect:  this time, too, a second course preceded that “little bit of salad”….. 

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.

Salad goodness from Peppa’s garden followed:

…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.

Pino asked Peppa what she would have done years ago if the washing of her three little boys was still damp and outside on the line but storms menaced – and it was 6:05 p.m.  Would she bring it in?

Mai!” (“Never!”) she told him firmly.

Then she added, “but I would never have left a damp washing outside in the open towards the Ave Maria.  I would have hung it under a covered portico near our house.”

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.

Peppa always kept her family safe from the malocchio.  And in her pristinely clean humble farmhouse, that breadcrumb-sprinkled tablecloth was never shaken out until morning. And it still isn’t.

Read more the malocchio 

See Peppa demonstrating fare la scarpetta

Read about eating with Peppa, never “just a bite”

Read about a Peppa grape harvest – and see our grape harvest in 1975!


  • Janet Eidem says:

    What a charming story! I would love to learn how to make gnocchi from Peppa! They are beautiful as one can see her signature in the forms. Love the crumbs story.

  • Janet, come back soon to Assisi and we’ll head together to Peppa’s!

  • Janet Eidem says:

    Maybe in 2020 Annie. Meeting with Peppa again would be pure treasure!

  • Ann Krapf says:

    I have never heard the story about the Ave Maria. Thank you for always giving us the inside story of life in Italy. We hope to come back in 2020. Our new grandson is keeping us busy for now!

  • Ann, would love to see you here again in Assisi..whenever you are ready!
    Congrats on your new grandson..che bello!

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