I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Dumplings: A Global History, which is part of a series of books aptly called Edible.
Like much of the history related to food, there aren’t always concrete sources to determine where a specific food originated. Oftentimes foods are “independently developed”.
That makes sense. After all, in software programming, if two people wanted to arrive at the same solution, there would likely be some similarities in the code, as well as different code that would function similarly.
In the case of dumplings, one of the main goals was to make a meal more filling at a low cost. Peasants might have made dumplings to feed their large families to stretch out the more difficult to obtain meat. Innkeepers might have used it to feed hungry guests a tasty and filling portion of food, while maximising profit.
Essentially, dumplings are some kind of mixed ingredient (either savoury or sweet) wrapped by or combined with some kind of carb. There’s a large number of variants from all over the world – from the Polish pierogi to the Italian ravioli to the Chinese jiaozi.
In the past, the dumpling ingredients used were usually what was available on-hand. In recent times though, with the reliability of global food transportation and more frequent international travel, dumpling ingredients aren’t limited anymore.
As eaters in this modern age, we’re privy to fascinating fusions and interesting interpretations. I once had cabbage dumplings in a lamb broth – a dumpling dish inspired by farikal (a Norwegian lamb and cabbage stew). My Asian tastebuds were very pleased.
I wish there was less talk of ownership over and authenticity of food. Imagine a world where all kinds of fresh ingredients were cooked with whatever techniques best brought out their flavours.
How magnificent would that be?