Celebrating the World of Dumplings

As one of the most beloved food in the world, dumplings are universally enjoyed. Last week I had an opportunity to have great fun by spending an afternoon celebrating their goodness at the 12th Annual Chef One NYC Dumpling Festival. A wide variety of dumplings including Latin empanadas, Polish pierogies, Italian ravioli and Asian offerings with fillings from Korean, Japanese and Chinese cuisines were all offered for sampling. (As a disclosure I am paid to write this sponsored post.) I managed to eat too much that went beyond just sampling. But I was stuffing myself for a good cause. All of the proceeds go to support the Food Bank for New York City to provide hunger-relief.

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Communal Dumplings for the Family

In Ba Jin’s (巴金) epic Chinese literary trilogy: Family, Spring and Autumn (家,春,秋), the author describes the life of a Chinese aristocratic family during the final years of the feudalistic Qing dynasty. It was a tumultuous time in which the family members had to negotiate changing political landscape as dynastic rule disintegrated, as well as the family’s own struggle between generations over changing values and aspirations. Ba Jin was a great observer and narrator of a China struggling within and without while falling into chaos at the beginning of the twentieth century. Among all the confusions and upheaval, there is one single constant and that is the communal family meal.

Whether it was an elaborate sumptuous spread of the upper class or a meager bowl of porridge of the poor, sharing communal meals was a social ritual. Families gathered for special celebrations and revolutionaries gathered for clandestine dinner meetings. These meals were not always happy and agreeable occasions. Tensions among family members often boiled over during them. But they gathered and shared their food nevertheless.

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