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Monday, November 29, 2010

Dia de Noqui, The 29th of the Month!

Today, I finally had a plate of noquis, (also known as gnocchi) a fresh potato and flour pasta, on it's rightful day! The 29th of the month!

For those of you, not in Uruguay, you are now wondering what I'm talking about! Well, the tradition in Uruguay is that restaurants offer and most people at home eat, these little pastas on the 29th day of each month. Why, that day? Well, by way of illustrating the reason for this, back in the states it's not uncommon to get a semimonthly pay check at your place of employment. I used to work at a job where I loved getting a weekly pay check because right when I was getting low on cash Voila!, another pay check would arrive. Now, imagine a once a month Pay period. You can see how your money might, begin to wear a little thin, by the time, the end of the month rolls around. Tradition holds that on the day before payday, the 29th the only thing people could still afford to eat were potatoes and flour for pasta making. Along with eating the noqui the tradition consists of restaurants putting a little coin (peso) under your plate of noquis to symbolize prosperity ahead.

The term Noqui is also derogatorily used here (but with a knowing smile) to describe a civil servant. Government jobs are highly sought after here, as they offer job security. Firing, a government employee is unheard of! It's like a professor getting "tenure", up until then, you are always under review but with tenure you're safe!  There are "Urban legends" of some "noquis", just showing up to work on one day, at the end of the month, only to pick up their pay for that month. Most government jobs have a sort of lottery that if you're in the winning group THEN you can be interviewed for the job. We have a friend who got his job when his friend, unbeknown to him, put his name in the contest. You still have to qualify through written tests but the contest gets you in the running! Getting back to the subject of the edible kind. Every month as the 29th approached I would think about ordering some noquis, since everyone offers this meal it would be extra fresh on that day. However, I would only remember the tradition on the 30th always missing it! This time we bought some to celebrate our new purchase.We stopped into a little hole in the wall deli (of sorts) in Salinas to pick up some media lunes (croissants with ham and cheese) and some Noquis! This time we bought some to celebrate our new purchase!

As you'll recall from an earlier post, I said that Monday Morning (now thinking about a "Mamas and Papas" song) that we would again, try and meet a delivery van on the outskirts of Montevideo. Well lo and behold after only 2 hours of waiting, we met up with Amando and our new bar stools!

We love them! We received 2 bar stools, for what we would have paid for just one at several other expo Hecho Aca vendors' stands. Also they are custom made (for our larger buttock proportions)

The seat bottoms are 17" or 43cm. The maker did question us when we gave him the measurements saying that most bar seats weren't that large but we assured him that is what we wanted! As a side note I looked at an online catalog and noticed that 17" was a standard North American size and NOT the largest by any means. So that made me feel a little better!

The cost of the bar chairs? Only $1200 pesos each (about $60 US). The finished project looks right at home in our new kitchen.

One last kitchen feature left to do is a small backsplash tiling job and some touch up paint. Then the heart of the home will be truly complete!


ximeoli said...

Denise: The bar stools are lovely! And I just love the stone wall in your kitchen.Your home is certainly looking better and better every day. May you enjoy it for many years. Regards, Ximena

Geraldo said...


I am very happy to read this fantastic folklore about gnocchi on your blog, a dish introduced to some South American countries by Italian immigrants, specially to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It has brought back good memories of my Italian grand-mother.

She loved gnocchi and used to joke that the name gnocchi comes from the word gnocco, which means “a stupid person” in Italian. I don’t remember why she said that... probably because it’s very easy to prepare... I’ll ask my mother. But of course gnocchi is anything but a stupid dish... it’s just delicious!

I knew this folklore of the gnocchi day, the last day before pay day so many people had run out of money... what a perfect meal gnocchi is... cheap and filling :o)))))) However, I had never heard about placing a coin under the plate whilst eating to encourage prosperity... thanks for that!

The most famous gnocchi is not a pasta, which is made of flour and water. The most delightful of all is the potato gnocchi... It is very easy to prepare, but in order to achieve good results it is important to have the right potato, which needs to be floury and with low water content. The best one to a wonderful gnocchi recipe is the Russet, low in water and high in starch.

After the potato gnocchi you can try my recipe of papaya cream :o)))))))))))


Wally said...

Geraldo- I located creme de cassis in the store and I think papayas are just starting to be sold. I will try that dessert soon!

Denise said...

For all of you foodistas, although I don't know the woman I have included a wonderful link on how to make noquis. Just click on the highlighted word (noquis) at the beginning of the post. Every 29th this women made a different noqui recipe. One even had sweet potato used! Her JANUARY 29, 2010 recipe is a good one to start with It is a basic how to make gnocchi/noquis. Yes she uses Potatoes. This one also uses Meyer lemons and sounds yummy. She has recipes from around the world from simple to unusual. Enjoy!