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.

Fol­low Anicka on In­sta­gram @ ANIQUA

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