D is for Dumplings
[chik–uh n en duhmp-linz’]
Do you have one of those foods that evokes memories as it melts in your mouth?
I don’t know, some edible that for some crazy reason manages to conspire with your taste buds to open windows into your past, to where you’d swear that for that moment, just one brief second in time, you were somewhere else entirely?
For me, it’s chicken and dumplings.
Dumplings made by my beloved Granny, who’s been gone now for almost 20 years.
I can just look at that photo of chicken and dumplings posted above and be transported through all those years to my Granny’s kitchen table.
The room in my mind is all cozy and warm on a rainy day, the curtains and tablecloth bright splashes of orange and yellow against the grey skies framed in her bay window.
A simple white plate in front of me – steam and the heady aroma of stewed chicken and herbs rising through the air.
The first bite: white meat bird cooked so tender it shreds against your fork as you lift it to your mouth. Mealy dumplings bland and chewy amidst the peppery sting of the gravy, hot against my teeth and tongue, every component working together to create a flavor overall greater than its individual parts.
In the moving picture that plays in my head, I pause for a second to feel my happiness. My contentment. I smile, there in my past and here in my present, basking in my Granny’s love for me, the surest thing I know – both then and now.
She bustles up, breaking the reverie as she fills everyone’s glass of sweet iced tea.
“Kimberly Lynne! You’re not eating!”
There’s a worried look on her beautiful face.
“You must not like it. I’m gonna make you something else. Just give me a moment.”
“No, no, Granny! Stop! It’s perfect!” I say.
And for this moment, everything is.
How to announce the return of comfort and well-being except by cooking something fragrant. That is what her mother always did. After every calamity of any significance she would fill the atmosphere of the house with the smell of cinnamon rolls or brownies, or with chicken and dumplings, and it would mean, This house has a soul that loves us all, no matter what. – Marilyn Robinson