For weeks I’ve been meaning to write about this.
One day a few weeks ago, Catherine and I were meandering through Cambridge after finishing an artery-clogging-but-otherwise-heavenly brunch of fried chicken on waffles at Tupelo. As we wound our way from Inman to Harvard, Catherine suggested we duck into the Harvard Bookstore to browse. Never one to turn down a book, we did. As we were looking around, I noticed the staff recommendations. There, standing out in the middle was a book about dumplings. It was fittingly called: Dumplings: A Seasonal Guide. I browsed inside it for a few minutes while standing. Then I found a chair and started really reading it. Fifteen minutes later, Catherine was ready to go. I looked at her and clutched the book in my arms the way a small child holds a security blanket. “If it makes you that happy,” she said, “you should probably get it.”
So I did! I should say up front that I haven’t tried too many recipes yet, but that doesn’t stop me from giving the book a pretty glowing review. The book is organized by month, with recipies within it that culturally and seasonally make sense to eat during that month. January, for instance, has the German potato-based dumpling spaetzle. February has dumplings in celebration of Chinese New Year (which I know can bridge months, but for a book that couldn’t organize itself by the lunar calendar, I think February was an okay choice). Within each month, the dumplings are organized by difficulty. So you can start at the beginning (as I did with some semolina-based dumplings) and then pick up speed and skill towards the end.
The book also has a section that details all the different ingredients that can be in dumplings, as well as section on all the different ways to fold dumplings. For the book, the authors decided that a dumpling was “a portion of dough, batter, or starchy plant fare, solid or filled, that is cooked through wet heat, and is not a strand or a ribbon,” so there are lots of different kinds of dumplings. Some are technicallyone big dumpling (like English bread pudding), and some bear more resemblance to pasta (like my semolina-based dumplings that I tried).
Some recipes are just the dumplings, some have soups and sauces to match. Some are sweet, some are savory. All of them look delicious. I can’t wait to try them all!