Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making Do and Making it Stretch; The Dumpling Dilemma....


NaBloPoMo Post #19

On the Topic of Food, Part Two

I remember when my mother explained why my grandmother made such large dumplings.

A dish that my father enjoyed was chicken and dumplings, and my mother would make it very simply with not a lot of veggies in it. There was the chicken, lots of broth, and very large, round, home made dumplings. (And I'm talking dumplings the size of a fist.) I always loved my mother's dumplings, but when I was older and had chicken and dumplings for the first time away from home, I was surprised that the dumplings were small, even squarish sometimes. That was new to me.

After Thomas and I got married, the first time I made chicken and dumplings I made the dumplings the way my mother had made them, although I did put more celery and carrots in than she had been used to do. Thomas said they were good but asked me why I had made the dumplings so big. I told him that was how I'd grown up having them and how I'd learned to make them. He asked if I could make them smaller the next time. I did and discovered that they were still too big for him. I did quickly learn to cook them just the way Thomas liked them, with -- to me -- very, very tiny little dumplings. He also prefers a lot of them, with very little broth left that hasn't soaked into the tiny little things. I liked them fine either way, although I must admit, sometimes I have a craving for them the way my Mom makes them. 

I remember telling my Mom about having to learn to make good little dumplings, and she said that actually her mother had always made them small, and that was actually how she'd learned to make them. But Dad had asked her if she'd make them large the way his mother had made them, so she did. I found that very, very funny. She'd changed from making them the way her mother had made them in order to please her husband, and I'd changed from making them the way she, my mother, had made them in order to please my husband.  

I find it interesting how methods and presentations of a dish can vary between families of such similar backgrounds. Mom said that Dad's mother made them so large because quite often she didn't really have enough chicken or vegetables to go around to feed all the children. But she almost always had plenty of flour for bread. So if she made the dumplings really large, it would stretch the meat and broth further. That made so much sense. Two or three large dumplings (into which the broth would not have totally soaked through) per child would be more filling with that child's portion of meat and vegetables. Yes, mothers contrive to feed their families when they have little means.

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