gnocchi essentially a kind of dumpling, are distinguished from other dumplings by being Italian and having a close link with pasta. They are made either from a pasta dough or from a mixture of potato flour and wheat flour, or from semolina or maize (polenta). In form they are about the size of a thimble and are usually given a special shape by rolling the dough against a fork or the back of a grater, or forcing it through a wicker sieve, or in other ways. An illustration to the 16th-century macaronic poem ‘Baldus’ shows the Muses eating gnocchi the size of northern dumplings; but this may be a joke. Some of the numerous local varieties of gnocchi are described below.