Monday, August 31, 2009

Size matters when talking about dumplings

Oh yes indeed, size does matter ladies and gentlemen when you are talking about dumplings. For me, the operative word would be SMALL. Oh, that is OK -- not to worry as small CAN be good and delicious. Especially, now that we are talking about little dumplings aka what I call Hungarian Spaetzle.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, we were privileged to learn from a master chef of Hungarian and Slavic cooking. It was our grandmother Julia Nagy who made not only the best Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, but she also was a master at whipping up the most tasty Chicken Paprikas and Veal Paprikas.

I can remember sitting in the kitchen with grandma as she mixed up a seemingly easy to prepare recipe for spaetzle aka Hungarian Spaetzle aka little dumplings. She was very proficient at the way she would put the batter on a flat plate and then start cutting the batter from the edges of the plate into the boiling salted water. How something of such a simple recipe could always taste so great! One of life's great mysteries I think.

spaetzle little dumplingsGrandma's Chicken and Veal Paprikas had such a yummy taste, only improved upon by the little dumplings. I think it was also the sour cream that she used in her recipe that provided that recognizable taste that I can imagine in my mind. This is a really great picture to demonstrate WHAT little dumplings aka spaetzle should look like! Photo Credit: Spaetzle taken by Kobako.

big bread dumplingsNow ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the BIG dumplings! This is a pretty funny story that demonstrates a miscommunication or culture difference. These are, yes, BIG. They are commonly thought of as simply dumplings -- they are the bread dumplings.

Let me tell you that I knew NOTHING about big dumplings when we vacationed in Eastern Europe, The Czech Republic. We arrived in Prague and headed out for dinner. Oh boy, I thought, that sign says Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings. Ah, my mouth and taste buds were at attention. We sat down and the plate arrived. "What the heck is that?" I asked. Oh, those would be dumplings!

Nay nay nay! Those are not the dumplings of my youth. Those are not the dumplings that grandma Julia Nagy whipped up in her Cleveland kitchen. So, arriving home, I emailed mom a copy of this picture. Mom laughed and said to next time ask for Spaetzle if I wanted little dumplings! Thank you mom! We should have brought you along on vacation.

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