Discover more from Above the Fold
Zine update, print sneak preview, and more!
It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from me: Here’s what’s been happening in dumpling-land.
I recently realized that I have not sent out an email newsletter since December. How the hell did that happen? Especially because, while it hasn’t been in a public-facing manner, Above the Fold has been very front and center in my own world on a daily basis.
So! Here’s what’s been going on:
Above the Fold, the print publication, is deep into production. It’s packed with ~7 brand new interviews, profiles, and essays about everything from tortellini street art to dumplings that may or may not date back to the Assyrian Empire. There’s an interview with a chef who is so dear to my heart (and to so many others’ hearts) that I can’t say his name out loud just yet for fear that it somehow won’t materialize, even though the interview is complete and edited and it very much will be coming to fruition.
I’ve worked in or around magazines for most of my career, but doing it as a solo endeavor has been both exhilarating and massively humbling. I’ve spent the last several months steeped in the painful reminder that there is no getting around doing things wrong as part of the process of learning how to do them right. I’ve found myself thinking back to my interview with Kyikyi, who runs the Oregon-based momo business Himalayan Dumplings, about the difference between her first and sixy-thousandth momos. The only way to get from point A to point B is to keep at it—and the satisfaction of finally getting it right, here and there, feels like magic. I can only hope that “here and there” eventually blooms into “most of the time.”
Sometime this summer (I know better at this point now than to commit to a hard deadline), the print version of the publication will go live. I’ll be sending out plenty of emails leading up to this to share more details and announce pre-orders. Once it’s out, I’ll also be roll out the stories gradually via email, which is when I’ll offer a paid option of this newsletter for anyone who wants to support the project but is less interested in print.
If you’re interested in having early access to the print publication—as well as other printed goodies like this exclusive riso print—please drop a comment below!
Long story short: I haven’t gone anywhere, and Above the Fold will be fully back in action soon.
Before I go, here are some dumpling-related things that have brought me joy in recent months:
When making the filling for these Georgian dumplings, I borrowed some techniques from dumpling makers you’ll meet in issue 1: I used a mix of roasted and sautéed mushrooms for more textural variety, and reduced a carton of mushroom stock until it was rich and syrupy to bolster the savoriness. I also grated some butter and raw onion into the filling, to try and emulate the oniony, fatty juiciness you get from a pork or beef manti. They were great!
Mei Mei’s Dumpling Mug
Irene Li (interview: here!) has been killing it with dumpling merch lately for Mei Mei, her restaurant-turned-dumpling factory that recently opened a large location in South Boston. She leaned into the ~local flavor~ for this “Boston Runs on Dumplin’” mug, and, as someone who lived in Boston for 15 years, I love it.
It’s only available to experience in-person for those who participate in #dumplingdisloyalty, a campaign spanning AAPI month that encourages diners to eat at eight Asian-owned restaurants in Massachusetts. It’s not available for purchase, sadly, but I’m just glad to know that it exists.
Modak in Alibag
I visited Mumbai for the first time in January to visit my boyfriend’s extended family for a wedding. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to try modak—a (often) steamed dumpling with a basmati rice-based dough and sweet, rich cardamom-spiced filling of jaggery and coconut, said to have originated in Maharashtra.
After the wedding, we spent a couple of days in a nearby beach town called Alibag, and a cook where we stayed happened to make a batch from scratch to conclude one of our meals. This was extremely exciting, and they were incredible—sticky, sweet, warming, soft, chewy. More on modaks to come in the future, that is for certain.
Above the Fold was created by Leah Mennies. Logo by Claudia Mak.