The first time I saw Gnocchi made was at a friend’s home in Italy.
We were all relaxing with wine, cheese and antipasti while our host prepared the Gnocchi right there in the kitchen. There was no go and sit in the other room while I do things in the kitchen. We were altogether watching, doing, talking and laughing about the crazy things our children did that week. It was pretty amazing being part of the food experience.
Kids are the same way. Introduce them and include them in cooking and they are enthusiastic and interested.
Each Sunday, there’s a space carved out just for them. Regularly each week they have the task of feeding themselves, something. It’s been a chance for them to try out new recipes and get some of the basic things done by themselves like safely using knives, turning on the stove, paying attention to prevent burning or smoking! Managing a pan, an oven and an eager brother. From when they could stand at the counter they’ve been involved.
We’ve worked on things together. Lots of questions and reminders for me to remember to buy things. Things have failed, burned and tasted amazing. What’s more because they cooked it themselves they’ve eaten it. It’s one of the legacies we’ve kept from our time in Italy.
For us it was a time we have a deliberately slower day. There’s no pressure to go out and we can take a long time over a short recipe because we’re all learning.
The second time I saw Gnocchi made it was my children making it with renowned Italian chef , Francesco Mazzei, Founder of the restaurant L’Anima. We were invited to cook in London. Francesco has teamed up with Grana Padano and Slow Food Kids to create some family friendly recipes bringing the Italian mentality of prioritizing family meals.
Having had an amazing Gnocchi experience myself before we were excited to see the boys in action. Since Francesco has two young children himself he explained. ” I want to help children develop the same love for good food that I have, and have had my whole, life. It’s very important for kids to experiment with new foods and get involved with the preparation process from the beginning so that they become excited and interested in the food they eat. That is a huge part of Italian culture..”
Working together the boys made pumpkin gnocchi mixing all the ingredients through to serving and eating at the end. They needed no encouragement to try, smell and really experience the food around them. With the rich colours and waves of different smells coming over they were anxious to try and share their feelings with us all.
Grano Padano cheese was available in many different ways which really helped get the boys to see how food has different tastes, textures and uses. It was fantastic to see them diving in. I’m a big fan of pumpkin gnocchi so I was so excited to have experienced the recipe with the boys.
There’s nothing like tasting a variety of cheeses and the conversations that happen afterwards. Grana Padano is lactose free due to its long ageing process and with 116 calories for 30g makes for a quick snack with a mighty milk punch. Definitely a snack worth adding to the list as an exchange from the traditional snack cheeses we use.
Funnily enough on our way home we stopped off to see Grandma as a surprise. She was excited to share she’d just bought a box of kitchen pieces and laying on the counter was a potato ricer. The boys immediately recognised it and then spent the next twenty minutes reliving minute by minute of the food experience of the day. Of course we got to take the ricer home with us.
We didn’t just cook Gnocchi. If you look carefully you’ll see some other delicious foods.
Spending family time together and eating good food is something we can all relate to. Slow Food UK is a not-for-profit organisation changing the way we eat and spreading the message of good, clean and fair food for all. They are hosting Slow Food Kids’ Taste Adventure to festivals and community events throughout the country in an effort to educate kids and families.
The Slow Food Kids’ Taste Adventure is a fun experience that encourages children to think about food as they journey through five interactive zones based on the five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell and hearing. Look out for Slow Food baby and developing their first foods. Find out more about Grana Padana, Slow Food and family friendly recipes by Francesca Mazzei by visiting Granapandano.it.