Food: German Dumplings

German dumplings- In my informant this is a family dish reserved for special occasions, particularly Thanksgiving. He learned this recipe from his mother and he passed it down to his daughters. The recipe is formally written down for convenience but the recipe is taught by example. There is no designated person responsible for making the dumpling it is just whoever volunteers. He says that he feels that dumplings are unique to our heritage and family tradition

Ingredients:Potatoes, Water, Salt

How to make:

Chop potatoes into small cubes.

Blend them in a blender to mush

Place the mush in a cotton rage and squeeze the juice out

Mix with flour and salt

Roll into baseball sized spheres (though the size may vary depending on how big the cook’s hand are)

Boil for thirty minutes until they float on their own

Serve with Chicken gravy

Part of the tradition is making jokes about how dense they are. Here’s a few that the informant told me:

“You can use them for bowling”

“In the Civil War they used them as cannonballs”

“We used them in floods to keep the water away”

“We tried to use them as Christmas ornaments but they pulled the trees down”

“In way back in Austria instead of throwing the first pitch they throw the first dumpling”

I find it fascinating that cooking the dish appears to be the most important part of the tradition. Dumplings are reserved for special occasion, they are jokes that only get told around that time, and children are taught how to make the dish while it’s being prepared. It might be because making the dumplings is so labor intensive. When someone makes dumplings they spend hours in the kitchen peeling, chopping, and blending potatoes. Then there’s the manual labor involved trying to ring out the water. Maybe the jokes and teaching other people came about in order to make the process more fun.