This is not a fairy tale. Once upon a time, many years ago, I sat down to lunch in a restaurant in Rome and ordered potato gnocchi. The gnocchi I had eaten before had been rather heavy dumplings, but, since hope springs eternal in a cook’s imagination, I was curious to try yet another version. A steaming bowl was placed in front of me. These were the tiniest gnocchi I had ever seen. One bite and I was transported. They were gnocchi like clouds!
Then began the quest. I asked around and learned of a Florentine woman living in San Francisco who taught cooking in her home. Word was that she was an accomplished gnocchi maker and hers were light. Naturally I joined the class to discover some of these trade secrets. I did learn that if you baked the potatoes instead of boiling them, the gnocchi had a better chance of being light. But the demonstrated gnocchi turned out to be the same substantial dumplings I had eaten before.
Unable to return to Rome, I embarked on a course of gnocchi making at home. Two or three times a week for many weeks, my children and I made gnocchi. One day we decided to leave out the eggs and discovered that the gnocchi were infinitely lighter. The next week we tested to see just how little flour was needed to make the dough. A t the last stage of this course, we made smaller and smaller gnocchi until they fairly levitated above the plate. This is it, success!