A whole lot of people I know – friends, family and those one sees only occasionally while dining out – are foodies. If you are one, you know of whom (and what) I speak. If you aren’t, foodies are the ones taking photos of their meals.
I don’t think I’m a foodie. When I was a teenager, I found the whole food-consumption process kind of boring and pointless. When I joined the Air Force, it became even more so: we ate solely to stoke the engines of energy, which we were obliged to do just as fast as we could shovel it down. I envisioned a pill one could pop to deliver all the vitamins and nutrients the body needed.
I think my appreciation for food only began with my experiences in Chinese culture. I learned Chinese restaurants have two menus: one for the American palate, the other reserved for Chinese diners who preferred their meals much more simple, healthy, and ultimately delicious. I sometimes found myself the guy everyone at the big round tables asked for my opinion about the Chinese food, to confirm just that. You’ll see in Bridge Across the Ocean many descriptions of Chinese cuisine, mostly drawn from my Asia travel experiences.
But closer to home, I learned the art of Chinese cooking likely comes packaged with the DNA. Nadia Liu, a Chinese “niece” of ours, was opening a restaurant, in the spirit and tradition of her mother, Sally Ling, former Boston chef of the famed “Sally Ling’s” restaurant in Cambridge. Her daughter writes:
“Born in 2014, the first Dumpling Daughter™ holds a special place in our hearts. The dream was to share underexposed Homestyle Chinese comfort food to a demographic that could not access it easily. Launched in the founder’s hometown, it was so well received and truly a dream realized.”
Nadia learned the art of making dumplings from her mother, which made her figuratively and literally a dumpling daughter. So when Nadia opened her restaurant in Weston, she named it Dumpling Daughter. Now, only eight years on, she owns three Dumpling Daughter restaurants in the greater Boston area.
By this point you may be wondering what today’s post about Chinese cuisine has to do with books, so now I’ll tell you: Nadia has published her first book, written by her and based on the recipes she learned from mother Sally. And so, quite appropriately, she named it Dumpling Daughter. It’s a handsome book: oversize format, casebound, trimmed in red, elegantly designed, filled with mouth-watering color photographs and Nadia’s delightful writing.
You’ll learn a lot of fascinating history about Nadia and Sally and Chinese cuisine through these writings, along with, of course, a whole lotta recipes such as “Ants Climbing On A Tree,” perhaps “Grand Marnier Shrimp,” or “Grandma’s Beijing Meat Sauce.” And of course dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. Of special note is the section “How to Plan a Chinese Banquet” which not only provides seasonal menus but Nadia’s personal tips for a successful meal, like “make things beautiful.”
Nadia is a remarkable human being, not only as an author and chef but as mother of two small children and wife of a totally wonderful guy, Kyle Spellman. She always has many irons in the fire. Nadia is one of the most creative and innovative people I know, and quite adept at getting publicity for her work, her restaurants, and her book. I love her slogan: “Making people happy one dumpling at a time.”
Yet another example of her creative entrepreneurship: in this age of hunkering down and doing every form of human interaction on Zoom, Nadia hosted a book publication party today at a local wine shop (what a pleasant alternative to a bookshop; people lingering in conversation while enjoying bites of epicurean dumplings and sips of paired wines). Nadia autographed copy after copy of her beautiful book for attendees, and she would love to autograph a copy for you or as a gift for your favorite foodie. To get yours, click on the Dumpling Daughter ecommerce site and select the number of book(s) you’d like. Type the recipient’s name in the Special Instructions box, and finish your purchase. Or you can buy on Amazon.
Get yourself and your foodies a copy of Dumpling Daughter. It’s a great holiday gift. Read it while popping online-order takeout dumplings in your mouth and you’ll be smiling.