Reader Linda asked me to help her re-create the dumpling of her dreams, a sliced bread type that she first encountered at a Czech restaurant in Ohio. The good news there is that back home in Chicago I once had a Bohemian girlfriend (not the lifestyle choice, the actual ethnicity). I learned a lot from that girl, especially about starches. At her family dinners we ate starches beside other starches, on top of other starches, and stuffed inside of other starches.
It’s because of one particular New Year’s Eve I spent with the Polish side her family (also big-time starch buffs) that I can’t eat pierogis anymore. All my other high school friends were elsewhere downing beers and shots of vodka. But who needs alcohol when you’ve got mashed potatoes inside a boiled wheat flour dough? I don’t remember much about that night after about my twelfth. I have foggy recollections of slamming bowls of borscht with her grandfather, belly-laughing at jokes told in a language I couldn’t understand. Whatever happened, she didn’t find it appealing. We broke up not long after. My great regret is I never figured out her mother’s hemendex making technique before we split. Sigh.
I’m sorry, I seem to have vanished into a Bohemian food flashback, which happens every now and again. Residual sour cream potato soup molecules still floating around in the brain, that’s what causes them I’m told. Oh, my misspent youth! Anyway, “Napkin dumplings” are what Linda had, and I know them well. So let’s get to it!