Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings
Chicken and dumplings

I was raised by my grandmother, who made old fashioned style chicken and dumplings, as people still tend to do in eastern Kentucky, of flat strips of slippery dough, which is completely different than the drop dough ball dumplings served in many restaurants today. 

 I've never been able to make my dumplings taste like hers, and only once have I encountered someone else who did. Just after my grandmother passed away, I found myself at a potluck with a friend where we didn't know anyone. Working through the tables of food, I came upon a flat style crockpot full of dumplings. Hesitant, I decided to give them a try. As soon as I took the first bite, tears rolled down my face. The reaction was more physiological than emotional at first, as with an emotional cry generally the deep breath comes in an anticipation to shy away from the tears, or at least gauge how big the cry is going to be by instinct. These tears just washed over me, appearing out of nowhere, speaking to something unconscious in me, that was ingrained in me. It wasn't sad, but cathartic. 

 I asked around about the cook and it turned out the woman who had made the dumplings had just dropped them off with someone else in attendance. I imagined that this woman also found comfort in these dumplings, maybe passed down from a family recipe, and I always hoped that message got back to her of the serendipitous meeting her dumplings had with a girl who got to go back home through her taste buds, if just for a moment.

Place(s): Estill County, Kentucky

– J. Robl

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more