The Humble Dumpling

As far back as I can remember, perogies have been the ultimate comfort food for me. With two sets of Ukrainian grandparents, the dumpling is practically in my DNA. Growing up, my babusyas and my mom would form an assembly line to make varenyky in a flour-dusted kitchen while large pots of potatoes bubbled on the stove. My mom even made thousands of handmade perogies as a fundraiser to send my sister’s high school band to Vancouver for a national competition.

But while doing research for this issue, we discovered this comfort food goes beyond Slavic countries, and almost every country has a variation of the dumpling. From gyoza to dim sum to gnocchi, in our cover story we’ve reviewed 13 varieties of dumplings from restaurants around the city. Also in our cover story, Olivia Canuel visits St. Mary’s Our Lady Queen of Poland Church to talk to the volunteers who have made approximately 35 million dumplings, Alex Frankow digs deep into origins of the word perogy, and whether you call them pirogi, pirohy, pyrohy, pedeha, or varenyky, we fill you in on which halls, churches, and Legions hand-make the delicious dumplings.

Following our theme, Chef Rachel Globensky serves up something sweet, film columnist Michael Sobota shares his favourite films involving the food, and sommelier Jeannie Dubois pairs up dumplings from around the globe with the perfect drink.  

Also in this issue, Justin Allec chats with the legendary musician Randy Bachman about his upcoming concert, Kim Latimer stops by Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School to get the scoop on the Wake the Giant program, and Ayano Hodouchi Dempsey provides a sneak peek at Magnus Theatre’s production Buying the Farm.

To paraphrase Maria Polushkin from her book, The Dumpling Cookbook, like a good actor a dumpling can fill many roles. We hope the food in this issue brings you some comfort—something that’s perfect as we welcome spring this month.

-Adrian Lysenko