The Italian tradition of eating gnocchi on the 29th of each month

The impenetrably thick mist was implacably bearing down on the Venetian plain like a giant’s foot. All the impoverished peasants toiling hard for the absentee landlords rushed to their huts. An elderly couple that usually lamented their miserable life had an unusual treat that night. The man brought two potatoes from the field and his wife prepared dumplings. In the sturdy cast iron cooking pot over the small fire they cooked them for a few minutes. Once they popped up to the water’s surface, they picked them up to serve on plates.

The couple smiled at each other and humbly sat on the table lit with a skinny candle. The wife had divided the dish in two equal portions of five dumplings for each one. They put a days’ old piece of rye bread and some leftover Christmas red wine on the table; it was December 29, a few days after the only festivity they could afford to celebrate. At the precise moment when they were about to take a bite, they heard a knock on the door. Initially fearful that it could be a thief or something worse, they were totally paralyzed. There was a second round of knocking, harder than the first one. The old man got up.

When he opened the door, a sudden rush of freezing blizzard hit his face, blinding him. Once he recovered, he saw a tall bearded man, covered in rags but holding a big sword. -“My whole party drowned in a surging river,” he said.”Can I come in to get warm?” The old man spontaneously extended his hand and led the stranger inside, by the fire. The devout wife quickly re-arranged the meal and put six dumplings on a third plate. They sat down in total silence to share a meager meal with some energizing drink.

Once they finished the meal, the stranger asked to lay down by the fire. The homemaker set an old rug and pillow to make his sleep more comforting. When he took off the cloak to use it as a blanket, he briefly exposed a big red cross on top of his mesh metallic dress. With the ingrained submissiveness of the serfs for authority , they cast their eyes down. The old man and his wife huddled in the opposite corner of the room and fell asleep.

At dawn, the old man got up to start his workday and noticed that the stranger was gone. Relieved that the stranger could not harm them, they carried on with their tough duties. A few days later the old man saw a posse of chevaliers in full regalia and flying colors. When the group approached the peasant, one of them came forth and dismounted. With a clean shaven face and luxurious garments, the stunned peasant did not recognize him. -“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I’m the one you gave refuge to that stormy winter night.”

The seigneur that owned all the land as far as the eye could see, was indebted to him. Returning form a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, his party was decimated and he got lost. Only the generous intervention of the peasant couple had barely saved his life that day. As a sign of gratitude, he released them from their indenture and gave them a plot. The old couple henceforth prospered and could finally help their children.

The significance of that folk tale has been transmitted to generations of Italians in the form of a tradition that does not go away: on the day 29 we eat potato gnocchi for luck. Our mothers and grandmothers put a coin under our plates and serve us that treat. In turn we relay the same tradition to our children, as we did last Sunday at our home. Being Italian, like being Hindu, implies sharing a great culture and not just a nationhood; our allegiance is not tied to a geographical area but to a communal sense of identity. Our family members had a limited command of the language, but we all breathed “Italian.” Safeguarding our heritage, we know where we came from and where we are going.

The featured image shows our original fusion dish that we had presumptuously labeled as Ottoman style-potato gnocchi because it mixes pasta, vegetables, figs and species; the latter included the Oregano, Turmeric and Moringa, which we will discuss in Wellness. We believe that the so-called traditional Italian cooking sorely needs a make-over to add veggies and fruits, avoiding the dire excess of acidic preparations, cream and cheese. There is nothing “sacred” about splurging on tomato sauce that provokes gastric acidity or milk products that raise your cholesterol level to the stratosphere. Not untouchable.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Our inspirational Light returned

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Early this morning, we were about to sit down at our desk to start writing when we caught this blessed view of the sun rays suavely sprinkling on our son’s head. He was checking his messages before leaving for work and we caught this view on the go. He is wearing a green jersey with the Harrods’ logo, a testimony to his (our) perennial admiration for the language of Shakespeare and the fabulous UK civic institutions.

Slowly yet steadily the necessary inspiration to resume our bi-weekly blogging is just starting to come back, coupled with that disquieting itching to tell another story. One more story. Then two. Then three…And eventually we’ll have another book in the works. We will start a new scaffolding-blog titled Supernatural, Superstition and She that will address the issues that have worried women for ages but remain tightly camouflaged.

We have started to upload the pictures of our cooking as a necessary warm-up for the special videos that we are carefully, methodically preparing. Yes, it’s finally coming.  We will resume the Wellness, Alternative Medicine and Health Care Justice series, of course. And maybe the unpredictable muses that visit us every dawn might invent another one. Apart from a good night’s sleep and a happy family moment, the only other way to fend off the swirling demons hovering above our head is when we sit down to write at ease.

Recently someone perfidiously asked us how come we were interested in so many issues, subliminally insinuating what we have never been for a second in our life: a dilettante. Haughtily staring at him (of course it was a man-women don’t ask silly questions), we repeated what Gregorio de Marañon, the Spanish physician and philosopher, had said:

“El que solo de Medicina sabe, ni de Medicina sabe” (whomever only knows about Medicine, not even Medicine he/she knows)

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’ t leave me alone.

 

Offerings to our Departed souls (Pitras)

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:
Good morning. This article and poem from Harbans Khajuria, my sage Brahminic instructor and dear spiritual friend, are simply excellent. Let us remember and honor, in so many different and yet unifying rituals across the main religions, our dear Departed relatives and friends that have made our stay in this Valley of Tears possible with their sacrifice, care and affection.

As a disciple of Thomas Merton, I believe that our Christian faith has strayed too far away from the original mysticism of our Early Days hiding in caves to become bogged down in the shifting sands of the Cartesian Rationality where we struggle to find a firm surface to step on and move. We must attentively listen to our brothers and sisters from the East, who still have a healthy attachment to the workings of Mother Nature, in order to recoup some of their rejuvenating energy.

May God Almighty have pity on our dear Departed souls and welcome them to his/her/ihr Grace.

INNER THOUGHTS

OFFERINGS
OF SHRAADDHA TO OUR DEPARTED SOULS (PITRS) FROM TH 14th SEPTember 2019 (PURANMASHI – FULL MOON DAY) TO 28TH
SEPTEMBER 2019 AMAVASYA – DARK NIGHT

SHRAADDHS -A SCARED RITUALIN THE MEMORY OF OUR DEPARTED SOULS

Shraaddhas are the important rituals most dearly observed
By the progenies of the (Pitr) departed souls
As a form of remembrance
To deceased relatives of ours who are no longer with us
And have gone to the lands unknown
We keep in mind them their love and affection
With our love and emotions flowing to the brim
For those who had shown us this beautiful earth
Because due to them only we’re here on this planet
The dear ones who had bestowed us the righteous guidance
Along with showering us their love so tender
And delivered us from many a difficult moments.
Now, as they have turned to Pitr domain
It is our…

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