A Mega-Dumpling and an Eating Contest: Recollections From the 2013 New York Dumpling Festival
This past Saturday September 28, dumpling lovers, competitive eaters, and passersby feeding their doughy impulses gathered at the northernmost edge of Sara D. Roosevelt Park to celebrate the humble foodstuff's proud and global history. Sponsored by Brooklyn manufacturer Tang's Natural, Fairway Market, the Voice, and others, the 10th anniversary of this noble event expected to bring in thousands of dollars for the Food Bank For New York City.
Once inside the festival area, it was all dumplings all the time. Children and adults alike wrapped their arms around Tang's mascot Mama Dumpling. My girlfriend was a mascot once, and she said that even on cool days those suits feel like 100 degrees (or 98 degrees if you love you some Lachey). In addition to traditional jiaozi pot stickers, there were ravioli, empanadas, sumptuous butter dumplings, and pierogies among the offerings. There was even a giant alien-like MegaDumplingTM, which I, the other dumpling-eating contest judges, and several other honorees cut through with a large knife. The dense floury beast split in two to reveal a litter of baby dumplings, like a gruesome anthropomorphic sacrifice. Please say it wasn't a cousin of Mama Dumpling. The crowd ate it up (not literally, as far as we know the MegaDumplingTM was just for show).
NYC Dumpling Festival
When it came time to judge the dumpling eating contest, I was somewhat concerned. Competitive eating never really drew me in, but I was curious. Maybe in this crazy world of cronuts and ramen burgers, I'd become so desensitized to shocking imagery that seeing completely good dumplings decimated and ingested with ungodly fervor wouldn't phase me in the slightest. Boy was I wrong. It is rough seeing the carnage wrought by these brave men and women. Dumpling skins scattered across the table, it is indeed a battlefield. You have to hand it the contestants for setting out to do something truly impressive and all in the name of charity.
For a report on the winners, see the next page.