Most kids leave Santa cookies. My brother and I would try to bribe him with an extra treat: a couple leftover pierogi from our Christmas Eve dinner.
Instead of sugar plums, pierogi danced in my head. And while I never admitted it in my letter to Santa, I was an accomplished pierogi thief. While they were kept warm on the stove ahead of our guests' arrival, I could lift the cover to the pan that cradled them without making a sound, liberating one to scarf down before my Polish mother walked back into the kitchen. My lips gleamed with a mix of butter and Bonnie Bell lip gloss.
From Warsaw to Wuhan, people around the world love dumplings. They're tasty little packages that can be made of any grain and stuffed with whatever the locals crave. But where did they come from?
No one knows for sure, but Ken Albala, a food historian at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., thinks dumplings have been around for a very long time. "Almost without doubt, there are prehistoric dumplings," he says.
If you find yourself craving New Orleans food, you could go there and melt in the sweltering heat for a dose of gumbo or praline bacon. Or you could settle in on your couch, as I've been doing, and torture yourself watching reruns of the HBO series Treme. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and, along with the music, it puts the city's food on center stage.