Would you risk it all for gnocchi?

I was living in Berlin about a year when I came across an Italian lass I rather wanted to impress.

“Hey, I know Italian food,” said the fool, “how about I make us gnocchi.”

“I love gnocchi,” said the girl with a dreamy look in her eyes the fool was already starting to fall in love with, “my mother makes it all the time.”

Red systems light blinking on the heads up display: Cultural Warning … Danger! Danger!

When talking about food with an Italian (a subject these fine people are known to indulge) and the phrase ends “della Mamma” – DO NOT TOUCH!

Sacred ground. Say three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers and just, walk, a, way.

“Oh, yeah. My gnocchi is great, just wait ‘til you taste it.”

I’ve ruined many a relationship in my time – mainly because of my big, stupid mouth. But this was the first time my hobbit-like hands were going to play a role. A fool and his (fill the blank) are soon parted.

The warnings – bless her – were frequent and generous. So much so that even I was getting the feeling – despite all my work experience in the fine dining kitchens of Melbourne (zero) – that perhaps I was screwing this up. Royally.

“Oh, you’re going to use those potatoes.”

“That’s a funny colour.”

“Wow, your mixing the dough with your elbow.”

“Shouldn’t they float before you take them out of the water.”

I’m plating up my ‘offering’ and the self-talk is going something like this: What the fuck am I doing making Italian for an Italian? She’ll walk out the door. But we’ve already slept together – that’s gotta count for something, right?

She looked at my malformed gnocchi laced with a powdery cheese sauce (gorgonzola no less) with a distinctly Mona Lisa twist.

She lifted her fork.

“Wait!”

“Hmm?”

“Don’t forget that the sex was good.”

She laughed.

“OK, let me just tell you that that was really a bad time to laugh.”

She kept laughing, right until the gnoccho touched her lips.

To her credit, she made a valiant effort chewing the bastard. Her cultured instincts telling her she should swallow at least one of them. Her physiological moanings informing her there would be a price to pay.

“Doesn’t want to go down, huh?”

She took my hand and sighed. “The sex was … just good enough for me to forget this.”

“McDonald’s?”

“You’re paying.”

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