Fig. 1 | Strand Editors Debate

And Other Carb Discourse  

Dr. Rebecca Gao’s Dissertation in Starch Studies and Gnocchology  

For generations, Italian food consumers have been plagued by one singular question: is gnocchi pasta? This confusion is understandable; gnocchi is often included in the pasta section of the menu— but everyone knows that it’s made from potatoes. This begs the question; what is pasta?  

According to Wikipedia, a source often cited by chefs and intellectuals, pasta is a dish that is made out of dough that contains mostly “wheat and flour” stamped into various shapes. Therefore, one can only assume that gnocchi is decidedly not a pasta. Crafted from one of the holiest of starches, potatoes, gnocchi may not be a pasta, but it is a worthy pasta substitute.  

In my research in Starch Studies, the study of starches, we often think of gnocchi as a dumpling. A dumpling, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “small savoury ball of dough.” It is clear to us why gnocchi may be thought of as a dumpling; it is definitely a “small savoury ball of dough.” However, to the pasta purists of the world—those who see gnocchi labelled under “pasta” and blindly follow the menu’s gospel—gnocchi occupies the same space as other pasta substitutes such as rice or gluten-free pasta options. They argue that gnocchi is a pasta, just as linguine made from spinach is a pasta. This is a valid argument, and the Starch Studies community does not wish to exclude those with gluten-related dietary restrictions from the world of pasta.  

This begs the following questions: What is a god to a non-believer? What is gnocchi to a pasta-eater?  

Despite the numerous studies done in the field of gnocchi-dumpling and gnocchi-pasta relations, all of which harshly divide up the starch world into a rigid oppositional binary between dumpling and pasta, I am inclined to believe that gnocchi occupies a liminal space between the two.  

Not quite a pasta, but not yet a dumpling.  


... and here's what the people are saying


Fig. 2,3,4 | The Debate ensues