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May 8, 2007 04:21 PM

Why do chowhounds like tacos and dumplings?

If I found a really good Shanghai restaurant, I'd make a mental beeline for the yellowfish, a whole tender fish lovingly cooked in one of seven or eight ways, perhaps with a rich brown sauce with Shaoxing wine and soy. Or perhaps a juicy, succulent pork shoulder slowly simmered with soy and mushrooms. But most people go for the dumplings. Yeah, I've tried the xiao long bao, and I do appreciate the artistry, but a plate of those would fill me. I'd sooner go for the fish.

Same with Mexican. Give me an exotic, flavorful meat (such as pig feet or maybe goat rumen) gently braised in a mole just exploding with flavors I've never tasted before. But most people spurn the moles and go for the tacos. I'm not denying that the marriage of a freshly made tortilla and a perfect filling just out of the stewpot has some merit. But how can it, or bings, or yang rou bao zi, or Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles (which are awesome by the way) or dumplings compare to the finest entrees? I just don't get it. And that probably means I'm missing something. Can someone please explain?

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  1. The same reason I got stomped on for asking something similar ... it is familiar and easy and tasty enough. The goat rumen is a hard dish to sell.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      I kind of think it's the culinary equivalent to a cheeseburger. Some folks (me included) just like that kind of stuff!!!

    2. I love moles and almost never eat tacos. I do, however, love a well-prepared dumpling. Why not have the dumpling as an appetizer and then go for the goat?

      1. I can explain that; different tastes for different folks! Makes the world go around and Chow interesting.

        WHat you call the finest, is your call, as otgher have what they call the finest. Viva la difference and share the posts!

        1. I spurn none of it and while I am a fan of dumplings and tacos, I'm also a fan of moles and fish and bistro fare and molecular gastronomical delights...

          Basically, you're painting with too broad a brush. I don't think that people eschew all of the things you're talking about but I do think that tacos and dumplings are easier to compare and, thus, easier fodder for discussion and debate.

          As to "the finest entrees"...well, just as a general rule for me, I find that entrees tend to be the least interesting parts of restaurant menus/offerings. Not because they're not dumplings or tacos....but because chefs seem to take more liberty with smaller dishes. They are willing to try more interesting and novel flavor combinations and ingredient preparations. I also much prefer smaller portions of dishes so that I can try more different dishes. A whole plate of dumplings of one sort wouldn't appeal to me any more than a pound of perfectly executed mole would.

          As to whether you're missing something....well, if you tried them and prefer other things then your'e not missing just prefer other things.

          1. I think it may break down into the theory that there are some people who love protein and some who love carbs. I used to be a teaching assistant with preschool kids in my early twenties, and you could see that trend in these kids who were only five years old. Some of them ate the meat or egg or whatever first, some went straight for the bread or crackers, even taking apart sandwiches. It's just a matter of personal preference. Now, if there actually are more carb lovers here than protein lovers, I don't know why that would be the case...