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Dumplings: A Global History by Barbara Gallani

by: Barbara Gallani

London UK: Reaktion Books 2015, $10.99, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-7823-433-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(3) page(s): 17

This book is in the edible series, its editor, Andrew F. Smith. It lok at a few Chinese dumplings and many others from around the word, and refers to them as widely consumed and a celebrated food. It begs asking the question: What makes a dumpling and goes on to ask: Why are they called by that name?

The first chapter does ask: What is a dumpling? It and five others include answers and information in historical documents and in cookbooks. One learns they are honorific and street food, have a role in some folklore, and some in films and in literature. This volume shares how to make them and considers their popularity in dozens of cultures and countries. One section includes sixteen recipes, two for Chinese versions called: Wontons with Pork and Shrimp; and Baozi with Cabbage, Beetroot, and Ginger.

The Wall Street Journal says this book is embellished with clever illustrations and there are five dozen of them, not all clever. They are in a small selection of historical and contemporary ones. The Chicago Tribune says the book has food memoirs, salacious and exotic, sharp and speedy little reads that are spotted with off-kilter illustrations. We say the book looks at similarities and differences among kinds of dumplings, the myriad of things they are stuffed with, even some poetry in their honor.

Written by a Director of Food safety and Science at Britain's Food and Drink Federation, the author includes things from the 12th century to today including their shapes and contents, some meanings, and those two Chinese recipes, among others. The final chapter, one in this volume in the Edible Series, does deserve your attention, particularly the recipe using beetroot. So does the information in the text.

This volume ends with a ten-page Glossary, two pages of web sites and Associations, and one listing her favorite blogs. There are creative illustrations, many food memories from around the world, and historical and international dumpling information. The recipes are written with ingredients listed, the method a single paragraph. We do hope to hear from those who make them and learn if they love them, particularly the one my daughter does, she adores beets. The absolute end is a five-page two-column index.

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