Whether salty or sweet Knödel are irresistible

Knödel are a typical dish of South East German cuisine, but also of northern Italian regions such as Trentino and South Tyrol. The word comes from the German  Knödel that means knot.

The origin of Knödel

This dish was created by accident after an event that seemed unpleasant. One day a group of  Landsknechts  arrived at a farm in South Tyrol and asked the farmer to give them something to eat. Otherwise, they would burn down the farm. The farmer was scared, but not disheartened. She called some girls and asked them to pick some herbs from the garden, while she started collecting some food leftovers in her kitchen: old bread, onions, eggs, some speck and flour. The farmer mixed all these ingredients together and added some parsley and salt. Then she made some balls and boiled them for few minutes. Finally, she served the dish to the Landsknechts. They liked the dish so much that at the end of the meal all fell asleep. When the chief woke up gave some gold coins to the farmer as a reward and went away content (and full!).


Then the recipe spread until it became one of South East Germany tastiest dishes and northern Italy. Through time some varieties were created, in fact, you can eat  sweet Knödel  with a filling made of apricots or plums. In this case Knödel are served as a main dish rather than as dessert.

The secret of Knödel

In order to make good Knödel you have to knead very well the dough. If it is too mushy it is possible that it opens in the boiling water; on the other hand if it is too firm you will have to cut it with a knife. Woe betide anyone who misses the  consistency! The cook is complimented only when Knödel can be opened with a gentle pressure of the fork.

An old evidence…

The first Knödel representation was a fresco in  Castel d’Appiano chapel  that dates back to 1180. Inside the chapel are represented secular scenes such as some events of king Theoderic, but also sacred scenes such as the Nativity. In the latter you can see that Mary lies on her back on a bed (typical Byzantine portraying). Beside her there are Baby Jesus, Saint Joseph and a young maid tasting one of the Knödel she is cooking in a pan. The fresco is a precious evidence because it is the first image that shows Knödel.


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