On a kitchen table that had seen so many culinary triumphs (mostly at the hands of my offspring), my daughter Molly notched another big one as the last hours ticked away from a tumultous year.
Ignoring, or maybe inspired by, all the tumult around her, Molly sat down and serenely rolled, cut, stuffed and folded dough, seasoned filling, and gelled broth to make us all soup dumplings.
Have you had the pleasure? I’ll never forget my first one.
It happened more than seven years ago after I trailed my son Charlie through the crowded streets of New York’s Chinatown, back when streets were crowded and moms could pop in for long weekends with their sons. He placed the order and we made ourselves comfortable at a communal table (it turns out soup dumplings are meant to be slurped in community).
The server placed a couple of baskets on the table and we dug in. It took some practice for me to chopstick the dumpling, raise it to my mouth, and chomp down without spewing broth all over the table. Eventually, though I nailed it. And, once you master the art of eating a soup dumpling, you can treat yourself to the savor — the pillowy dough, warm broth, tangy filling.
I started seeking out soup dumplings as soon as the plane touched down when I visited New York and I thought that was my only opportunity to have them.
And then, in a Christmas miracle, Molly’s sister Katherine gave her a soup dumpling kit and Molly asked if we wanted her to make them for New Year’s Eve and I got to ring in the new year with one of my favorite treats (and even, miraculously, with a few of my favorite people).
Thank you so much to my gifted gift givers for offering us all a taste of what was, what is now and, with every hope I have in my heart, what can be again in the future.
Soup dumplings, man. They’re little bursts of optimism I highly recommend.