Do you remember the first dish you fell in love with? I’m not talking about the foods you ate all the time because you were a kid — looking at you, Cheerios — but about that special thing that made you want to eat. The kind of food you’d be happy to waste time playing Nintendo to sit down and enjoy.
For me, it was dumplings. To be more specific, it was the pot stickers from China Village in Walnut Creek, California. I was only 2 or 3 years old when my parents let me try them for the first time and since that day I became a fanatic. There were so many things that pierced me: the perfectly burnt skin, the way the ginger stung my mouth with every bite, the excitement of watching all the dumplings lined up together on the plate and trying to choose which would be mine.
From then on, I was open to any kind of food that could be described as a dumpling. Luckily for me, dumplings exist in so many different food cultures. Whether it’s perogies, soup dumplings, chicken and dumplings, dumplings or gyoza, if it’s a dumpling, I’m going to eat it.
I vividly remember the first time I ate a soup dumpling, and given how terrifying the experience was, it’s a wonder it didn’t end my love affair. with the dumplings. I was on a first date and I was already incredibly nervous. We decided to order a plate of soup dumplings to share. I knew going in that I was going to have to find a tricky way to handle this without making a fool of myself. I bit into the first as gently as possible and was treated to hot soup squirting deep into my mouth, burning both my tongue and the roof of my mouth in the process.
I tried to play it cool and contain all the pain I felt inside. Whether I succeeded or not is a matter of debate [I did not], but luckily there weren’t too many laughs at my expense. Although the skin was just beginning to bubble from the roof of my mouth, I was undeterred and dove into a second dumpling. This time I had it all figured out, or so I thought. My main goal was to keep the soup from scalding me, which I accomplished, but ended up inflicting a horror far more damaging to my ego than the previous injury to my mouth. A perfect line of steaming hot soup shoots out the side of the dumpling, onto the table and lands perfectly on my date’s white blouse. Long story short, there was no second date.
I finally figured out the secret to consuming soup dumplings in a safe way, although we still get the occasional spraying of soup, but these days it tends to stay directed at my own clothes, which is a lot less embarrassing.
Even though I went through adversity with the little guys, I deeply love dumplings. And the same goes for people who have chosen to get tattoos of dumplings. Check out this gallery of some of our favorite dumpling tattoos and try not to get too hungry.