Potato Dumplings


As I noted earlier (Christmas Break), I’m using food and diet as a culture marker within my documentary work.  Potato dumplings were a big thing in my family.  Dumplings are interesting because they are a part of many diets, including Chinese and Indian, and thus there is an interesting point in common.

In any case, my great grandmother used to make what they called Sambarger Klöß every Sunday for lunch.  I know my grandmother used to make them too, but once they moved to Canada, I don’t think they followed that tradition quite so regularly.  

I have made these dumplings before, but they failed: they broke up when I put them into the water to cook.  My grandmother simply said I didn’t use the right potatoes.  But she didn’t elaborate.  I asked my cousin whether she knew which potatoes they used, but she said no one makes them any more; it’s too complicated and too much work.  

My thought was that if I could find the recipe, it may offer a clue as to the preferred potato.  There are many types of potato dumplings so I needed to narrow my focus.  I had to recall two things: the approximate recipe and what they looked like.  Through my research, I came to conclude that what I was looking for goes by various names, but I think the most generic is “Green” dumplings, as they are made with a 2/3 component of raw potatoes.  I found a recipe on line that closely resembles what I recall as the one my grandmother followed (although hers was not written down). Sadly, none of the recipes I found named a variety of potato.  

However, I knew that high-starch potatoes are required so the dumplings bind and don’t fall a part when they are boiled.  Again, research concluded that Russet Potatoes were the appropriate choice.  

I recorded making the dumplings. The resulting dumplings were edible.  The advice from several sources is that the dumplings are cooked when the float to the surface (of the boiling water).  Mine never sank.  So I cooked them for 15 minutes;  the larger ones were a bit underdone, so the recommended 20 minutes might be better.  The dumplings were sized to be just a little bigger than a hard ball (or cricket ball).  I will be making them again, but may not every Sunday.

So, what does this have to do with my Documentary work? First, it is basic research.  Like the ethnographer, doing is an approach to learning and understanding.  Should I include this in my work, either as is or with better production quality, it would become a performance element of the work.   


One response to “Potato Dumplings”

  1. […] The fact that it is a plate specialized for bread might point to the importance of that food in their lives, but again, that’s a guess. The reference to the Lord’s Prayer suggests some level of religious observance, on their part. However, the wear on the plate surface, the chip and crack suggest the plate was used, and not just for ceremonial purposes (as was often the case). Having said that, my father’s side of the family seemed to hold more interest in dumplings. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *