29th of the Month – Ñoquis Day

Traditional Argentine Food — By

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In Argentina, the 29th day of every month is known as Ñoquis Day.  On this day, it is common for people to order ñoquis in a restaurant or to prepare them at home, and to bring them luck, they are served with some pesos underneath the plate.  Although it is not a closely followed tradition, it makes for a great excuse to try some of Argentina’s delicious ñoquis, either at home or in a restaurant.

So why is the 29th day of every month ñoquis day? Just like many old traditions, nobody is certain, but there are a couple different stories:

1-Potato Patron Saint

Legend has it that a young doctor by the name of Pantaleon, a recent convert to Christianity, performed a number of miracles.  The most famous is that one day, when he was travelling on a pilgrimage, and he was in serious need of something to eat.   He stopped at a farmer’s house and asked for food.  The farmer was very poor, but proceeded to offer him what little he had.  Pantaleon was very grateful, and he told the farmer that for helping a man of god, he would have a plentiful harvest the following year.  Sure enough, the year that followed was the most prosperous the farmer had ever experienced.

On the 29th of July, Pantaleon was canonized, and became Saint Pantaleon, patron saint of Venice, along with St. Marcos.  To honour St. Pantaleon, the people would eat ñoquis on the 29th of every month.

2- The Potato Switch

One year in Italy, nearly an entire harvest of wheat was lost, which was the staple of their diet.  Without wheat, they would go hungry.  Luckily, the potato harvest was a good one, and although they were normally used for animal feed, the farmers were forced to use eat potatoes as well.  They used potatoes to make a sort of pasta, which turned out to be the origin of potato ñoquis. The people were very overjoyed with the delicious results, and from that year onward, they would gather in the plaza on the 29th of every month,  in honor of the Patron St. Pantaleon, to celebrate the potato harvest.  Naturally, during this celebration, potato ñoquis were served, and money was placed under the plates as a symbol of luck.

3 – Penniless, but not potato-less

During the sudden arrival of so many Italian immigrants in Argentina, there was also a lot of poverty.  Many of these immigrants struggled to live on their meager salaries.  As a result, by the end of the month, they were often out of money, and had to eat as little as possible.  Ñoquis are a very economical meal, as well as nutritious and very substancial, making them a perfect meal for those without money.  The ñoquis would be served with some pesos underneath the plate, wishing luck to the person eating them.  Making ñoquis near the end of the month became a common occurrence, and slowly turned into a tradition on the 29th day of every month.

4 – Club del Ñoquis

A few decades ago, a group of food journalists would have monthly meetings, alternating between members’ houses, and the host would be responsible for preparing dinner for their guests.  One particular meeting happened to fall on the 29th of the month, and the host, aware of the history of Italy and Saint Pantaleon, decided to prepare ñoquis. The meal was a huge success, and as the monthly meetings became more and more popular, they became known as the “Club de Ñoquis,” meeting on the 29th day of every month. This became a exclusive club whose events were attended by some of the city’s most prestigious people.  Each month, different styles of ñoquis were served, and the idea eating ñoquis on a monthly basis began to spread to restaurants and people’s houses. It became somewhat of a trend, and turned into the tradition as it is today.

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1 Comment

  1. I had no idea! I love another reason to celebrate! this is so informative!

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