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The Underrated Pleasures of Eastern European Dumplings (newyorker.com)
129 points by CraneWorm on Apr 25, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

Eastern European food (and Mexican and some Chinese cuisines) are deeply underrated - they belong in the same category as French or Japanese, but long-held prejudices devalue them. It's a pity, but it also means you can get an _amazing_ meal for cheap in Greenpoint.

When I lived in California, Mexican food was cheap and almost always delicious. Where I currently live (somewhere in Europe), Mexican food is always expensive, sometimes good, but most often mediocre. I am yet to have an amazing and cheap Mexican meal over here.

> When I lived in California, Mexican food was cheap and almost always delicious.

That quality Mexican food is more readily available in a place that used to be Mexico and which has since that time always had a substantial Mexican population is, perhaps, not so surprising.

I think it's a function of distance from source.

Mexico is close to the US. The US has a sizable Mexican population, which means expertise. It also means there is a demand for Mexican food, which spurs competition. Finally, ingredients for Mexican food (whether sourced from Mexico or elsewhere) are readily available. This creates an environment where its possible to find delicious and reasonable priced Mexican food.

Europe is far from Mexico, and the situation is different.

Allow me to generalize "Europe": In Europe you can get delicious and cheap middle Eastern food.

P.S. Where in Europe do you live? Last year we had a really good Mexican restaurant open in Warsaw, Poland.

> Mexican food is always expensive, sometimes good, but most often mediocre


Comes out to Queens (more specifically Elmhurst / Corona). I won't guarantee you'll like it, non gustibus and all that, but it's definitely not always expensive.

If someone held a gun to my head, and told he to open a restaurant with my meager saving; I always felt it would be a take-out burrito place.

I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't like a burrito, or pizza.

My point is I think a clean burrito joint would go over practically anywhere.

It needs to be clean, and the portions need to be generous, and the owner needs to keep an eye on the business.

In many parts of Europe kebab shops have taken the role that burritos and such occupy in Americas; the dishes are a bit different in ingredients and taste, but they're similar enough in the business details & way of consumption to be pretty much replacements for each other.

In some places, there's pretty much a kebap shop over-saturation, at least in Germany.

Luckily these past years a lot of the "US food" has become way more popular. Tons of "artisan burger" restaurants and burrito/taco shops popping up. US-style food trucks, with all kinds of different offerings, also have become very popular.

>Tons of "artisan burger" restaurants and burrito/taco shops popping up. US-style food trucks, with all kinds of different offerings, also have become very popular.

More upmarket segment and pricing though, not really in the category of kebap shops.

Kebap shops already have had burger competition, in their price category, for quite a while with McD/BK.

The BBC covered the kebab situation in Germany last year. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170203-germanys-favourite-...

From the article: "But it’s not just the taste, large portions or affordability – costing anywhere between €4.50 to €14."

I haven't seen a 14 Euro Doener anywhere, but I'm sure they exist. But 4.50 is definitely not the cheapest. 2.50-3.50 is actually the most common price I see around Berlin.

A proper one with some kind of meat in it? Or just a bald one with maybe some lettuce in it?

"Some kind of meat", yes. I can't imagine it to be of high quality, so hesitate to call it "proper". AFAIK the main noticable difference is whether the kebab is made of ground meat or not. The latter being more expensive and supposedly of higher quality. But in the end it's mostly going to be factory meat so it makes no difference, IMHO (there are exceptions of course: https://www.meraba.de/).

The US is ready for a kebab invasion. It will almost certainly happen in the next five years.

The peak will hit when a franchise chain of kebab places goes national.

I'd keep my eyes on Chicken & Rice Guys (3 locations around Boston, plus a truck), but they really need ten million dollars or so to win the domestic market.

Halal Guys from New York is already national, and actually has international locations: https://thehalalguys.com/locations/

And after trying to steal my countries idiotic politicians statement about smashed avo and millenials, you’ll be stealing our HSPs [0] next!

[0] Halal Snack Pack, served originally by west Sydney kebab shops, it’s literally the greatest food to eat drunk. Which I find amusing — we do love our irony down here!

Oh dear lord I love HSPs. Nothing like shovelling 2000 calories of meat and potatoes down your gullet after a boozy night.

For everybody wondering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal_snack_pack

Basically french fries/chips covered with kebab meat and liberally doused with various sauces.

>The US is ready for a kebab invasion. It will almost certainly happen in the next five years.

Absolutely true. At least at our truck, our kebab sales are second only to fish & chips - people go absolutely nuts for kebab, especially if we're posted up somewhere with alcohol. Munchy Box adoption is similarly high.

But the whole idea of the kebab shop or chicken shop is that it is not a franchise chain, except from nandos. The beauty of it is that each kebab shop differ a little bit from the other creating a landscape of discovery and awe. We wouldn't have the pengest munch if not for this diversity of cheap chicken shops.

It's only the case while kebabs are rare and niche - as soon as they become one of mainstream fast food types, kebab franchise chains will appear and will be popular with people.

I'm that person.

The main reason being that I prefer food that start life on my plate separately, so that I can choose to take a bite of each in turn. After that I don't especially like cheese, which spoils a lot of these types of dishes. I find that a lot of people agree with my first point, it's rarer to find people that aren't into cheese.

IMO I think a lot of people feel the same, which is why you end up with so many mediocre Mexican restaurants.

There’s an independent burrito place right next to my office (big tower block, so just being there guarantees them customers), and it has good prices (for London), good sized portions and is clean, but the taste is mediocre at best.

in my experience the Japanese more often than not don’t like burritos or in particular don’t like Mexican style beans.

> Eastern European food (and Mexican and some Chinese cuisines) are deeply underrated

Well, one interesting point is that native Mexicans and native Chinese would hardly recognize what we in the US call Mexican and Chinese.

As for Eastern European food, I think some of it may simply be quantity. I can't think of a single ethnic dish in my family that wasn't meant for an army and was meant for one. Even the article author talks about having made 1500 dumplings. And many of the dishes get better on the second day.

It also doesn't help that ethnic dishes tend to all have little quirks about how your mother, grandmother, etc. did it and you won't like somebody else's quirks. The author's grandmother had her own quirks to her dumplings, for example.

    > native Mexicans would hardly recognize
    > what we in the US call Mexican.
That's just second hand synthetic snobbery.

Even more amusing is the person down-thread who echoed some wives tale about Mexican workers refusing to eat the food in the Mexican restaurant they work at in the States. Come the fuck on.

The only people I've ever heard say these things are Americans, especially pochos trying to claw back some cultural credentials because they don't speak Spanish.

No different from any other time someone thinks loudly disliking something makes them more tasteful and authentic. Like an HNer shitting on Javascript.

I'm sure the Mexican food in Finland is fucking terrible. But let's not pretend that Mexican cuisine is some impenetrable wonder of the world, nor that Mexicans as a whole won't devour Mexican approximations with the same fervor they drink Coca Cola and queue up at Subway in their Sunday clothes.

In my younger years I worked as a prep cook at a couple fine dining restaurants in San Diego, and except for the executive chef I was the only other white guy there. We spoke Spanish in the kitchen and since I loved Mexican food and culture, I really tried to absorb as much as possible and learn recipes. As a prep cook, I would do the employee meals and the other cooks would loudly exclaim 'Tacitos de Tijuana' once I started getting it right, with perfectly made tacos just like you would find in northern Mexico. I was so proud.

But you know what they really loved? McDonald's kept running a promotion where you could get ten hamburgers or cheeseburgers for something like $2 or $5, and they would constantly make quick runs to the local drive-through at meal time, then burst in the kitchen entrance shouting and waving the McDonalds bag around. All work would stop and I would be called to bring my extra prep container of guacamole so a spoonful of that could be added to each burger and everyone would wolf them down. We're talking like ten Mexican dudes and myself, and 40-60 little hamburgers disappearing in a couple minutes. The executive chef was so disappointed and he'd just shake his head and go sit in his office.

I still prefer tacos to hamburgers though.

> That's just second hand synthetic snobbery.

Not really. Try ordering a "burrito" or a "breakfast taco" in Mexico. And, you will note, I was careful not to claim that either one was more "authentic".

Foods evolve as they move and are adopted. This is doubly true of "ethnic" foods. The original article is a beautiful example of this with the grandmother starting with Siberian pelmeni, adding pork to a dish while in a nominally "Muslim" area and preparing it in Chinese bamboo steamers.

Melting pot, indeed.

With recent Mexican and Chinese immigration you now do get restaurants that are a taste of home, even in the northeast. Most of these are newer restaurants, with many patrons speaking Spanish or a Chinese language.

Eastern European food, however, is more challenging regarding authenticity once you get past the delicious dumplings. Not too many people want to go out of their way for boiled meats and cabbage, or fatty vinegary stuff in aspic. Egg salad on a hot day at the Latvian church picnic. Brrrr. I expect these cuisines to evolve the way food in the UK has, developing a new native cuisine.

Poles have some pretty delicious meals outside of pierogis. There's barscht (cabbage soup), zurek (a kind of sourdough soup), golabki (meat-stuffed cabbage leaves). Great pretzels too.

I've never had a Barszcz made with cabbage as a base. I'm not saying you're wrong - I'm not Polish. But my wife is, so we eat a lot of Polish food and visit Poland at least once a year. It's a biog country though, so it could be a regional variation.

My tips are: barszcz czerwony z pierogi (both red made from beetroot with a good pierogi), barszcz biały (white borsht - basically like żurek, but made with wheat and served with with meat and egg), żurek (a fermented rye soup), bigos (a stew made with cabbage, sour cabbage, lots of meat and sausage and other ingredients), gołąbki (as you said - cabbage leaf wrapping meat and rice filling, served with a tomato sauce), kopytka (a little like gnocchi), łazanki (like a polish lasagne, but with sour cabbage), or just something simple like kiełbasa z cebulą (sausage with onion fried.)

So much great food. This is only scratching the surface.

Few realize the breadth of dishes, and there are regional differences and food originating in different historical social classes. I haven't found any good places in the US (though I'm sure a few exist). Perhaps you'll experience some of them if visiting a Polish family. Christmas eve might be a good start where there are traditionally twelve courses. Also, soup is one of the specialties of Polish cuisine.

Polish barszcz is not traditionally made with cabbage - it's at heart a beet soup. Some variants of the soup made in Ukraine or Russia may contain chopped vegetables and sour cream, but in Poland warm barszcz is a consommé-style soup. There is also a cold variant served in the summer called chłodnik (a literal translation of which would be something like "cooler") which has sour cream in it.

Cabbage soup is called kapuśniak (from "kapusta" which is cabbage). Żurek is a fermented rye soup often called "white borscht" on North American restaurant menus. Another Polish soup worth trying if you find it on the menu and like sour flavors is zupa ogórkowa, which is a dill pickle soup.

What eastern european food have you eaten?

P.s. many people from places like Poland consider themselves Central European. Some even Western European. I think this is about how they feel about being aligned with Russia, but also where their affinities lay

The EE/CE/WE labels have their uses, but I find that the way the EE label is used is more of an indicator of Western ignorance than anything else, kind of like the term "Dark Ages". In the Western mind, EE might as well be a country. England, France, Germany, Italy...Eastern Europe! It reinforces the Cold War era stereotypes that are still around, that it's just this huge, culturally homogeneous mass where everyone speaks some riff on Russian.

I'm not sure why Eastern Europe shouldn't be a valid term for talking about the countries in the east of Europe, though? After all, your own comment seems to refer to Western Europe as a group, as well.

It seems to me indisputably true that there are large groups of related countries in Europe, and as a French citizen I do not have any problem with being grouped with Western Europe. Sometimes Southern Europe even, or Latin. "Eastern Europe" doesn't seem less relevant for the countries that are east of Western Europe.

I have travelled a bit around Europe, and I certainly do feel more "at home" once I am back to somewhere west of the German/Polish border, anyway. I'd expect it to be the same (reversed, of course) for those who come from Eastern Europe.

> Egg salad on a hot day at the Latvian church picnic. Brrrr. I expect these cuisines to evolve the way food in the UK has, developing a new native cuisine.

Do you mean, adapt to fit the preferences of the native palete? No thanks, I would prefer that Lido just get forklifted into some country than to be offered a potato pancake not slathered in sour cream and horseradish…

Plenty of authentic Chinese restaurants from around forty years ago on the West Coast, so it’s not just recent immigrants.

Um, how about Chicken Paprikash or Sour Cherry Soup?

Eastern European food has quite a lot of variation.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make? And what does quantity have to do with anything? Besides, I've had Polish dishes made in small amounts, and those made for large gatherings (I've had pierogi in both settings, but from what I hear, they are very labor intensive, so I don't know how they manage to make 1500 without!).

I think you're right about Eastern European food.

Mexican and Chinese do have high end representation. It's pretty paltry on the East Coast but you can go to Rosa for Mexican in NY or Red Farm for Chinese to see examples of high end. Of course there are lots of places in Mexico or Asia where you can get extremely high end cuisine of that type. I have very little experience with Easter European food (but love it!) so can't say if it's the same in its native region but I bet it is.

GP noted that "some Chinese cuisines" are underrated. Emphasis on "cuisines." China is huge - food can be divided into 8 regional cuisines. In the US you mostly see 2 - Cantonese and Szechuan - and no, Chinese-American doesn't count! There is a lot that people are missing out on.

I haven't been to Red Farm but some cursory searches show it's categorized as Chinese-American cuisine.

You can actually find some of the best Chinese places these days in college towns with high Asian populations.

Just curious where you are located.

I've lived in Las Vegas, The Bay Area, and Salt Lake City and Mexican Food definitely gets the appreciation it deserves here.

My favorite restraunt Utah doesn't even serve Mexican food... they serve "Imperial Aztec Cuisine from Mexico City"

I live in Iowa. Lots of Mexican restaurants where native Mexican's serve good food. However if you have actually been to mexico you will know it is only vaguely related to Mexican food as served in Mexico. If you speak Spanish to the help they will admit they don't eat the food where they work because it isn't like home.

On a long road trip across the southwestern USA when I was a child, we went into a Mexican restaurant in Yuma, Arizona, where no-one spoke any English.

Fortunately, the owner's teenage daughter came home for lunch, and she spoke English, but she didn't know translations for what was on the menu. My mum asked her what she was having for lunch, and then asked for the same. The girl translated for her father, he grinned, and brought the best meal of the trip.

Unfortunately, we had no idea what it was called.

I've heard the same comment from Mexican immigrants, but for different reasons. A Mexico City expat friend of mine derides all Mexican restaurants, even the higher-class ones are just "ok".

I suspect that Mexican dishes highly according to the part of Mexico, but experience in higher quality Mexican restaurants in DC leads me to believe there is also a huge quality difference.

There are definite regional differences according to my wife She grew up just a couple miles from Mexico so a vacation in Mexico wasn't a long trip, plus the random Sunday "lets go to the other side of the river for lunch and cheap sugar" trips that are possible when the country is that close. I have never lived close enough to Mexico as to make it the trip a non-event and so I don't have personal experience to report)

So what do they eat?

They probably go home and cook their own meals most of the time. Just like most people who can't afford to eat out for all their meals.

Ah, I'm curious because it's not uncommon to see some restaurants and bars patronized by food service folks. SFGate periodically runs "where do the chefs eat" type human interest stories from time to time.

> I've lived in Las Vegas, The Bay Area, and Salt Lake City and Mexican Food definitely gets the appreciation it deserves here.

I disagree, and I'd look to the words of Bayless and Bourdain. Mexican food in the Bay Area, at least, is almost entirely taquerias.

I'll give you that The Bay Area is actually significantly behind Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.

But I would try Lolinda if you are craving different.


Funny thing about Lolinda, one of their line cooks stabbed some guy to death. I was on the jury and man did that case reaffirm my cynicism towards our judicial system.

There are a handful of less casual Mexican places in the Bay Area, but not many (Tres Agaves and Nopalito come to mind). Lolinda is actually Argentinian, not Mexican, though.

I think Brooklyn (as in Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

> It's a pity, but it also means you can get an _amazing_ meal for cheap in Greenpoint.

Any specific recommendations if I'm going to make the schlep on the G?

I’d suggest trying / making Lithuanian zeppellins. They are heavy, but good. Especially if you nail bechamel sauce!

Just in case you are living in NYC, try Teremok - it's a Russian fastfood chain which just started expansion to USA, that I cannot wait to see here, in Berlin. I'm always going there in Moscow to eat some blini.

The final episode of the Netflix series Ugly Delicious [1] holds a 'face-off' between Asian dumplings and Italian stuffed pasta. Although quite tongue-in-cheek, they mention that similar foods exist in many cultures.

I recommend the series as they tackle themes regarding the prejudice against certain cuisines, as mentioned by OP. Warning, you'll be hungry after and during each episode.

[1] https://www.netflix.com/title/80170368

This should be emphasized. Back in 2009-2011 I lived in Brooklyn and me and my friends would bike up to Greenpoint, and I would have a great lunch for $10. People should especially go the restaurants where the people mostly speak Polish, and English is a second language for them.

Hamtramack in Detroit also has great Eastern European food, or did in the 80s and 90s. Many families in Central Michigan and Upper Michigan even have paprikash, goulash, and dumplings for the occasional meal.

Btw the sausage in Hamtramack is fing awesome.

If only Detroit could export its food like Brooklyn does. Detroit-style pizza is just so much better than yours ;)

My office was in Greenpoint until 2010 and sadly all the truly great places we loved are long gone, with much of the Polish community.

It's not about taste. It's about diversity. Almost all countries avec a few good dishes.

What used to make france a great place for food is that you could it a different delicious dishe every day of the year if you wished so.

The food quality is seriously going down in my country though.

Agreed. Mexican cuisine in LA is a whole nother level, whether street food or fine dining.

> they belong in the same category as French or Japanese

Huh? French food I can understand, though I don't have much of a taste for it, but Japanese food is terrible -- I was there for two weeks. A lot of foreigners are deeply disappointed when they travel to Japan, especially by sushi (though I found a couple of good sushi places). However, by far the best food in Japan is found in Chinese-style restaurants. Chinese food completely eclipses Japanese.

Eastern European food is fantastic. It completely spoiled me and my gf -- we couldn't stand the much-loved Spanish tapas when we went there. And Poles make as good or better pizza than Italians.

And then we went to Asia and found ourselves in a whole different ballgame.

> you can get an _amazing_ meal for cheap in Greenpoint

I completely sympathize -- Polish food is rewelacyjne when you're used to shitty American food.

> Huh? French food I can understand, though I don't have much of a taste for it

You probably have not tried the ones you like, I'm french myself and there's so much variety in France it's impossible to try everything, I probably know less than 50% of the regional specialties despite being native. There's very few national dishes unlike most other countries.

It's all just down to personal preferences. On balance I much prefer western European food to eastern European despite having polish grandparents who used to cook amazing pierogi.

Do you like beef? Japan produces some of the best beef in the world.

Or it might just be your taste, but many people disagree with you about it being objectively bad.

One day I'd like to eat a flight of dumplings from all countries that have something that could be construed as a dumpling.

We have those dumplings in Slovakia too, they are called “pirohy”. They are pretty delicious but its a lot of work. I also think that food is slowly dying as most of the people I know don’t make them any more.

Australian living in Slovakia here. Shout out for Bryndzové halušky.

If anyone here lives in Portland OR...go to Kachka and have the sour cherry vareniki. Everything there is great, but those in particular are incredible.

Bonnie Frumkin Morales, The chef at Kachcka, released a cookbook recently which is a must-buy for anyone remotely interested in Russian cooking. Everything I’ve made from it has been a gem.

Ahh -- I've wanted to go for a while to try to relive some study abroad experiences, but they at one point had a really sketchy health report that soured me on going. That was long enough ago now that I'm not worried about it; thanks for reminding me that it exists!

Alas, I'm some distance from Portland. But I looked at some recipes and those sound really good, and not hard to make:


We make pierogi every Christmas Eve. It's a lot of work.

Mrs T’s sautéed in butter with some bacon bits is a lot less work and still pretty tasty.

Cuisines are like languages: all are good when you understand them, the difference is that some are easier to get into (e.g. Italian food or English language) than others. They evolved slowly over the centuries and what was not worthy would not stick.

When you arrive in Poland its cuisine can be very difficult to get used: pierogi (dumplings with potato or cabbage inside.. hardly ever meat!), sour soups, overcooked cabbage.. but then you start to discover sauces, creative salads, breaded fried stuff, sophisticated cakes and you realize that their cuisine is just as good as others.

Portuguese Açorda(1) is literally old bread inside hot water with herbs, a bit of olive oil and eggs. It looks austere but if you imagine yourself some centuries ago with only these ingredients, I challenge you to make something better.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A7orda

Pro tip: since fairly recently, Trader Joe’s carries fairly authentic Pelmeni in the US. They have a little less meat than Pelmeni would usually have, but other than that they’re surprisingly good, even by Russian/Ukrainian standards.

My grandmother used to make awesome blueberry dumplings (вареники з чорницею) which were served with smetana (a type of sour cream) and they were wonderful! My teenage-girl cousins would make room in their diets to just a piece - I can only imagine the willpower needed! The blueberries were locally picked from the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine and very fresh.

Next up in Eastern European and Middle eastern cuisine - Cabbage rolls!

It's a little further east than Ukraine et al but I absolutely love the Taiwanese dumpling chain Ba Fang Yun Ji Dumplings (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g13808671-d101...).

Eastern European dumplings are Mongolian dumplings, Mongolian dumplings are Chinese dumplings ;)

They've evolved as they traveled through the cultures! I've had all of them and there are very distinct differences.

Mongolian dumplings are very similar to steamed Chinese dumplings, but strictly with ground beef or mutton.

Eastern European dumplings are smaller, usually boiled and made in bulk.

Adding Kreplach to the list: https ://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kreplach

Speaking of Eastern European food, what do you folks think about schnitzels?

That's an Austrian dish.

At the time, Austro-Hungarian empire controlled a big chunk of Eastern Europe.

So they both have schnitzels, though the Austrian version is veal and the EE version is pork.

In the end, it is a variation of Italian dish.

schnitzel is austrian, and therefor central european!

they are no more eastern European than Chinese, European pierogi it's pretty much same stuff as Chinese jiaozi, so the title it's misleading

You're right that pierogi, and in fact all dumplings, and even pasta, originate from China. However, they are different. The differences may be subtle to someone who is not familiar with them, enjoys generalizations, or lacks taste buds.

The world of dumplings literally spans the globe and is extremely varied!

You can put different things in them. Even if you look at "meat stuffed dumplings", you can use different types of meat, that is prepared and flavored in different ways. The dough can be made of different types of flour and with ingredients in different proportions. They can be boiled, deep fried, pan fried. They can be eaten by themselves, or doused in butter, fried onions, sour cream, bacon bits, or who knows what. The choice of stuffing is tremendous, spanning meat, cheese, potatoes, fruits, and mushrooms! Don't even get started on different shapes, which are also an important part of the meal.

It's like saying "bread is bread" and throwing croissants, sour rye, and cron-bread into the same proverbial basket. Technically true, but does not add much to the conversation.

How it is possible to know who invented any sort of food? You never can be sure.

European (and British) tea is just a version of Chinese tea, but differencies in tea culture are huge.

Bon vivant trivia, tribal sneers, celeb gossip & huffy etiquette advice seems to be about all the wealthy inner city is interested in these days. Shame the infection has spread here.


Somehow, even an article about dumplings is offensive.

Not offensive. Boring and trivial.

Yes, the OP started out with travelogs and stories about how great my great grandmother's dumplings were. At least the OP omitted the stuff about have to stir the pot counter clockwise or the food will be no good! :-)!!

Finally, in this thread, no one has mentioned the recipe! I saved a copy of the OP, but only because of the recipe. The recipe was well written in places, e.g., the measurements. Good! At least the recipe left out the stuff about needing sour cream butter and adding flour until the dough "feels right": If I already knew that much about the dough, I wouldn't need the recipe!

Points about the recipe:

(1) Use pork shoulder or pork belly.

Really? In the US pork belly is raw bacon and nearly all fat. Pork shoulder has much less fat and, in some hogs, can be quite lean. So, those two sources are not nearly the same. I happen to have some pork loin, very lean, and some US bacon, nearly all fat but with standard bacon flavor. So, I should mix in by weight maybe 15% bacon?

(2) Fold the dough to make an infinity symbol.

Really? As a mathematician, I understand the infinity symbol, but I can't visualize how to take a circle of thin dough and make an infinity symbol. An instructional picture is needed.

(3) Master the dumpling pleating folding technique.

I'm willing to do that, wanting to do that, waiting to do that; now teach me how to do that! Or is not explaining that just one of the secrets of kitchen hazing for newbies???

Somehow such issues are standard in recipe and cookbook writing. E.g.:

At one time I subscribed to the Time-Life series Foods of the World. Finally I wrote them a letter cancelling the subscription. I got back a letter from some Time-Life person with hurt feelings.

Their point was that they were showing lots of really good foods. They were. My point was that they were also showing me travelogs with colorful stories about the cultures and with beautifully done, often full page, photographs of smiling faces, peasant costumes, interiors of high end Paris restaurants, gorgeous landscapes, and spectacular displays of what looked like fantastic foods: All of that made me want to learn to cook such foods! But the emotional grabbing got in the way of the instructional part: For instructional pictures, they had only a few and they were small. E.g., I saw lots of dumplings from Eastern Europe, Russia, China, etc., but nothing at all on how the heck to fold the dumplings! There was a fantastic Bavarian Black Forest Cherry Cake, but after many hours in the kitchen, with lots of money on groceries, there were two research problems, (A) getting the chocolate curls on the sides of the cake and (B) getting whipped cream strong enough to serve as cake filling and frosting. After hours, I got a good solution to (A) and a partial one to (B). And there were other issues, e.g., the cake was basically an egg foam with coca powder and nearly no flour so took some special handling.

All the books in the series went on this way -- "bait" with lots of gorgeous emotionalism and then a "switch" with far too little instructional rationalism.

For an explanation of this bait and switch stuff, I conjecture that in cooking writing, editing, and publishing, there are many more English majors than chemistry majors!!!

Maybe - just maybe - if you can't figure out how to twist half of an oval shaped piece of dough 180 degrees to form something resembling an infinity symbol or whether you want fat or lean meat in your dumplings, maybe critiquing "instructional rationalism" isn't productive. Did you want the author to also explain that this process is generally done in the kitchen?

Do you mean 90 degrees?

No, 180, to turn O -> ∞. 90 degrees would turn O -> o–

I still have not even zip, zilch, or zero idea how to make the infinity. Or how to do pleating. If I knew those things, then I would also know how to make the dough and wouldn't need the dough recipe.

I can understand the Radon-Nikodym theorem in measure theory and the proof of von Neumann just fine. I made As in high school and college chemistry and can follow Eric Lander's lectures at MIT. I've made Sacher Tortes, Black Forest Cherry cakes, several French dishes, lots of American dishes, some Chinese dishes, have cooked successfully from Escoffier, Diat, Pepin, Child, etc., so I can learn.

Still I don't know about how to fold dumplings. That dumpling folding is common in kitchens doesn't make it common in my kitchen. The OP didn't help, and neither did you.

For making the infinity fold, the OP text is:

"Pull up two opposite edges of the circle, and stick them firmly together above the meat. Do the same with the two other edges, creating an X shape with the edges. Now join the “ears” by pressing together the corners, turning the X shape into an infinity symbol."

Between the first and second steps, sounds like a 90 degree rotation about a vertical axis through the center of the circle of dough.

The OP starts with a nice picture, but it's not very instructional on HOW to make the items shown, and among those items I didn't see anything like an infinity symbol.

For the infinity, I'm beginning to guess just what she means, but it's still a guess.

As is common in cooking, IMHO the OP is more for entertainment, for vicarious escapist fantasy emotional experience entertainment (VEFEEE), with the fantasy of being with a big, traditional family in a family kitchen in Eastern Europe, with lots of aromas of spices, herbs, and browning dumpling dough, etc. Still, such VEFEEE is zip, zilch, and zero for instructing me how to fold dumplings.

Stopped at "... varenyky, the Ukrainian version of what in Poland are called pierogi...."

Disappointing how HN seems to have gone all-in on being a “mental floss” site.

Today does have a couple more outliers than usual but if you look back at previous front pages at archive.org, you'll see it hasn't changed all that much. Five years ago today there was an article on Stonehenge, a Kickstarter for a feature film, and a "my best life hack" piece: https://web.archive.org/web/20130425093132/https://news.ycom...

It's part of the mandate of HN to cover an assortment of everything, not just tech and startups, so long as it gratifies intellectual curiosity (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). That's one of the best things about HN, in my view, so I hope it doesn't change. Can dumplings gratify intellectual curiosity? Of course they can!

It always had some tendency for that; pg's own submissions could in part be classified as such: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=pg

Did you actually read the article?

It's written beautifully, and includes what looks like a delicious recipe. I myself never realized the similarities between Chinese and Eastern European dumplings, but there is a fair amount of overlap, especially with regards to soup dumplings!

HN sourpusses could use a bit of home cooking -- a juicy dumpling full of pork belly and butter would lighten any mood!

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