Food Sans Frontières

Prompted by a recent post on instagram by Alissa Timoshkina I have been thinking a lot about foods that cross borders.The most obvious one that comes to mind is polenta. It is one of those foods that has no boundaries.Italian yes but also Eastern European ( Ukrainian and Romanian ). It is also a staple in South African cuisine where its served for breakfast with sausages and tomato sauce. Corn meal dishes are staples in Spain and Portugal also. Interestingly though the Andalusian Polea Porridge, was wartime fare, a sort of a breakfast soup, and is a perfect example of a recipe created by the imaginative poor people during the Spanish Civil War. Ingredients were rationed at that time. Polea was made with water, flour, salt, anise, milk and sugar. Nowadays polea is made with celeriac. Xerém or Xarém is an African-Brazilian speciality, traditionally from Portugal but also eaten in Cape Verde and Brazil. It is a porridge made with corn flour combined with traditional ingredients from each region where it is prepared. In the Algarve it is served with cockles.
Polenta aside, if there is one thing that has unversally brought us cooks together cooking for Ukraine its the Varenyky. Pronounced vah-rEH-nee-key, they are Ukrainian stuffed dumplings – often better known by their Polish name, pierogi.Varenyky(vareniki/dumplings) are popular across the globe, and abroad they have other names, shapes, and fillings.

Traditional Ukrainia savoury Varenyky
Sweet filled varenyki with strawberries
Russian pelmeni
A traditional Ukrainian varenyk is double the size of a Russian pelmen and four times larger in size than an Italian raviolo. Ukrainian varenyky are half moon shaped, Russin pelmeni have a round form, and Italian ravioli have mostly a square shape. In Poland and Belarus varenyky are called kalduny and their recipes are similar to Ukrainian ones. As I am very partial to a dumpling myself I thought I would go round the world ( not literally) in quest of dumplings."Lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...."Short of sounding like Shappi Khorsandi this is how i see it.
Once upon a time there was a meatball... Meatball was very tired... found a blanket, and got comfortable. Really comfortable. So comfortable that Meatball didn’t notice when the blanket started wrapping him up. And thus began the story of how the dumpling was born ( only joking ).
A dumpling is a delicious, bite-sized food that’s made of savoury ingredients wrapped in dough and cooked. … If you order dumplings in a Chinese restaurant, you’ll get a filling made with vegetables, meat, or fish — it might be a wonton, cooked in a soup, or a potsticker, steamed and then lightly fried.
Chinese xiaolongbao served in a traditional steaming basket
Did you know for example that China has more than 12 varieties of dumpling and if you are partaking of a Dim sum meal you may encounter several in succession.
Shui Jiao. This is most likely the classic dumpling that you’ll get in a Chinese restaurant. …
Potstickers are a type of traditional pan-fried Chinese dumpling. …
Boiled Dumplings are more similar to the dumpings i grew up with in the Uk.
Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) …
Sheng Jian Bao (Pan-Fried Soup Dumplings) …
Char siu bao ( steamed meat filled buns)
Wontons. …
Har Gow. …
Guo Tie. …
Hun Tun. …
Siu Mai. …
Bao Zi.(pronounced “jow-zee”) are perhaps the most common type of Chinese dumpling. Crescent-shaped and formed with an opaque wrapper made from wheat dough, jiaozi are usually filled with ground pork, cabbage, and scallions, and served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.
Bao, for Chinese speakers, includes all things wrapped and bundled, including dumplings, be it baked, fried, fermented or steamed. We don’t have the equivalent for such a glorious food item in Europe. So dumpling is as close as we can get to describing baos, but the word is not nearly inclusive enough.

Japanese Gyozas with Kimchi gravy

Japan has Gyozas. This is a japanese crescent-shaped dumpling filled with a minced stuffing and steamed, boiled or fried, the japanese equivalent of the Chinese jiaoz,i while pierogi (Polish) is a square- or crescent-shaped dumpling of unleavened dough, stuffed with sauerkraut, cheese, mashed potatoes, cabbage, onion, …
Nepalese Momos
Nepal has Momos. Momo is a type of steamed dumpling with some form of filling. Momo has become a traditional delicacy in Nepal. Chef Santos Shah brought them to my attention through Masterchef. 
 jjin-mandu strikingly similar to tortellini
Korea has Mandu. If the dumplings are grilled or fried, they are called gun-mandu (군만두); when steamed, jjin-mandu (찐만두); and when boiled, mul-mandu (물만두)

Turkish lamb and feta uzbek manticores.
Often called turkish ravioli Manti is a classic dish served in several different parts of the world. It’s kind of like a mix between ukrainian Vareniki with potatoes and the Russian equivalent pelmeni.
As I have mentioned already both the US and the UK types that we are most familiar with, are usually balls of dough that are dropped into the liquid of a sweet or savoury dish and boiled. American dumplings are made of a mixture of flour, baking powder and fat, whereas dumplings in the UK tend to be made from self rising flour mixed with suet (shredded animal fat).

Italian ravioli en brodo
In Italy Ravioli and tortellini fit the basic definition of a dumpling: these are pockets of pasta enclosing various fillings(cheese, mushrooms, spinach, seafood, or meat).Tortellini — small circles of rolled dough folded around a filling — are one of the most renowned members of the Italian pasta family. In the land of their birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they’re strictly served as broth-like dumplings. So there we have it the meatball wrapped up and in its place world wide variations on the theme of dumpling.What kind of dumpling are you?


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