FALL FOR DUMPLINGS
No surprise here: our editorial planning sessions for this issue’s dumplings story were particularly enthusiastic, and they even inspired a fair bit of debate. Given how the word “dumpling” describes so many different specialty dishes for so many different cultures around the world, what exactly defines one? “A doughy ball of delicious,” as one suggested, didn’t quite seem to cut it. Instead, we started listing just about every fare that had earned the right to use the moniker: German Knödl, Japanese gyoza, Russian pelmeni, Shanghai soup dumplings . . . and then we decided it was time to break for lunch.
Growing up in a half-Slovak household, I ate my fair share of Slavic-style dumplings as a kid, but I’ve been able to find or recreate only a very few of them since my grandmother passed away. I’ve mastered Slovakia’s national dish, halušky—essentially a gnocchi-like dumpling that’s tossed in either sheep’s cheese or fried cabbage and onions. But her ovocné pirôžky, a plum- or raisin-filled perogy topped with browned Cream of Wheat and sugar, is a comfort food I’ve yet to replicate. I recall my babka serving them to us in her tiny northern Ontario kitchen, and when we expressed surprise that there wasn’t any potato inside, she crossed her arms and said, “pff t, that’s Ukrainian.”
These days, we’re likely to find those regional dishes to be a little less rigidly prepared, and many of the recipes our favourite food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal, shares in this issue (“All-Day Dumplings,” page 71) are a fusion of several cultures. From a breakfast dumpling that borrows from the perogy tradition to a classic chicken and dumplings recipe that features Gouda in its doughy goodness, each recipe is just the kind you’ll want in your cooking arsenal for a cool fall night.
And now, I think, it’s time to break for dinner.
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