Gnocchi Lessons at the Italian Embassy

(Jul 17, 2011)

A young Girl Scout group from McLean, Virginia, gives a lesson on Italy at the Education Office of the Italian Embassy.

During the afternoon of May 10, 2010, the Education Office of the Italian Embassy (with the support of the Press Office, and the sponsorship of the Casa Italian Language School and Café Milano) welcomed a young Girl Scout group, from McLean, Virginia, for a lesson on Italy. 

The Director of the Education Office Lucia Dalla Montà and teacher Antonella Longoni, appointed by the collaborating agency Casa Italian Language School for the presentation of the lesson, welcomed the eleven girls, from ages 9 to 11, and the three mothers, who accompanied them.

After a brief introduction at the Embassy, the Girl Scouts were accompanied into the auditorium where they started the lesson prepared by Antonella on the salient points of the unification of Italy. Some key facts discussed were Garibaldi’s Mission of One Thousand, multiculturalism and the pre-unification multilingualism. At the end of the first part of the lesson, a pin reflecting the logo of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy was given to each of the participants. Afterwards, the teacher showed the geographical characteristics and the political subdivisions of the current Italian regions.

Following this, Ms. Longoni projected a PowerPoint presentation with a quiz on food and on the dietary habits of the Italians, aroused interest in the Girl Scouts while preparing them to work in an Italian kitchen. This was the most anticipated part of the lesson, in so far as the girls, in increasing their (and their families’) involvement, were each invited to bring a little amount of flour to help make dough for the gnocchi.

After finishing the explanation, the group relocated to the restaurant where Andrea Tripi and the chef organized “a cooking workshop,” with a long table with pasta boards for everyone, measuring cups for the flour, and other kitchen tools and a pan with boiled potatoes. The initial fears in approaching the table were allayed as soon as the chief began to demonstrate how to make gnocchi. After a couple of seconds, the girls were ready to get a hold of the dough and roll it into a snake-like form and cut it in tiny cubes. The final touch was to roll the gnocchi against the prongs of a fork for the lining of the surface.

Even the mothers joined in, as happy as their children in preparing the pasta. At the end of the lesson, the little cooks were given a diploma and a sheet of paper indicating the other possible choices to create more dishes with gnocchi.

In the end, each child left with a bag containing some gnocchi that she had prepared and a jar of sauce, offered by the chef, amongst a chorus of goodbyes and “grazie,” “grazie mille,” and “arriverderci.”

It was a memorable lesson for everyone.

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