New York, I still love you. I think that’s how many people felt when they saw the infamous pizza rat meme. For all the crap that goes through its gutters each day, all the crazies and critters that line its streets, there is a gleeful levity in little moments like these happening in every corner of the city all the time. And so for all the hunger that some of its people suffer, there are events like the NYC Dumpling Festival, pelting food from all whichways at patrons whose admission tickets would benefit the Food Bank for NYC. And in one of its biggest public attractions, going twelve years strong: a dumpling eating contest waged by amateur overeaters.
Yeah I know it sounds ironic, and it is. But when so many people find enjoyment in something it’s infectious. Here are a few scenes to get a glimpse of what I mean.
September 26th was named National Dumpling Day by TMI and Chef One, aka the Brooklyn dumpling factory, which hosted the event. It was a beautiful early fall day, as it turned out, to hold the festival.
Hoards of people came to it. I don’t have a good approximate count, but as it was held in a public park in the Lower East Side, hungry foot traffic folk could easily find their way in.
Kids, babies and old ladies alike love dumplings, I was reminded. All colors, shapes and sizes of folks were in attendance, eating away. It reminded me of how, when I was in grade school, my mother used to make potstickers for school bake sales because she didn’t bake sweet desserts… and everyone loved them—parents, teachers and kids. Because dumplings are good. Enough said.
But it wasn’t just Asian dumplings. There were empanadas, ravioli and samosas at this festival, which are all dumplings of a kind, too. Like their eaters, this food type knows no borders.
And then there was the dumpling eating contest, a multiple-round affair split into two major contests amongst men and women separately. I’ve always been freaked out by eating contests, but this one was at least for a good cause. And if the contestants could stomach it, then I could.
The biggest winner of the day was Molly Schuyler (center, in white cap), who trumped all of the men and even her own previous world record by eating 93 dumplings in two minutes. Yes, that’s right. She looked happy afterwards but said she had been hoping to break 100.
Fortunately there was lots of h2O and Bruce Cost Ginger Ale to help wash down those things. Overall, a good, tight selection of things to eat, drink and do at this festival, without having to overdo it (like competing in the eating contest).
The best thing about a festival like the NYC Dumpling Festival, on any given year, is you just can’t make this kind of s&#% up. Not any more than you can plant yourself somewhere to catch a meme. May all your dumpling parties be wacky, weird, and good-spirited. Che fan!