This is not going to be a coherent post. If I were feeling metaphorical about it, I would say the weird jumps are representative of the Dim Sum itself, a lot of different, tiny plates of food. But mostly it's Sunday and I'm not feeling up to the task of organizing my thoughts.
I had a friend in college who refused to eat Dim Sum unless it was served in the most traditional style: on little carts that circle the room, piled high with anything and everything: dumplings, sesame balls, chicken feet. I am inclined to agree with her. There's something to be said about how you're served food changing the way you eat it. There's no challenge to eating a la carte Dim Sum, no impulse decisions, no sour-looking woman lifting up the covering of a plate to show you the hidden treats within, no frustration at having the same cart go by your table five times while the cart you really want gets stuck all the way across the room. Dim Sum isn't really a type of food. It's an experience.
I am super sad that Dum Sim never turned into a real thing. I would seriously play that game all the time.
We didn't have Dim Sum in my hometown growing up, but my parents taught me to love it. Whenever we'd end up in a new city while on vacation, the first thing my parents would do is find the Chinatown, and the next thing we'd do is find a Dim Sum place. Dim Sum is a Sunday morning food to me, around brunch, when your stomach is already starting to growl.
My favorite dumpling growing up was the shrimp dumpling. It's mostly just shrimp and probably some pork stuffed into this thin, clear, rice dumpling skin. One of my cousins and I used to get into weird fights about who could eat more of them. We'd have four bamboo dumpling trays (four dumplings each) arrayed on the table, and we'd eat as many of them as we could as fast as we could. This was probably a terrible idea.
My favorite dumpling now is the Xiao Long Bao, which literally translates to 'Little Dragon Bun', but most of the time it gets translated into English as 'Soup Dumpling'. It's not something you find in Dim Sum restaurants, because Dim Sum is Cantonese/Hong Kong food, and Xiao Long Bao are from Shanghai, but I thought I'd mention it here anyway, because dumplings are delicious.
Once, my parents and I brought a whole bunch of our extended family with us to Dim Sum. My mom thought this might mean that we'd have a longer meal -- it's very easy to feel full when the food is so greasy, so it usually takes us about half an hour -- but it only took all nine of us twenty minutes to order and polish off our food. People eat faster when they know they need to beat someone else to the dishes they want. Fact.
Dumplings are the real reason you go to Dim Sum. This is also a fact that I just made up right now.
Turnip cake was something I ate at home before I ever had it as part of Dim Sum. You can buy it in these giant frozen blocks at Chinese supermarkets, and then after you thaw it out, you slice it and toss the slices into hot pans to get a nice, crispy skin on it. My mom doesn't like heavy sauces, so we'd eat them plain, still very tasty. It wasn't until I went with friends in college that I discovered how amazing they are when you dip them into Hoisin.
Don't bring vegetarians to Dim Sum. I learned this the hard way.
My parents, even more than I am, are creatures of habit, so they almost never branch out and try new things. That is the danger of Dim Sum, to only ever eat the same 4-5 dishes you always eat. One of my coworkers has a rule that he will always try new thing when he goes out for Dim Sum. I envy his dedication.
Man, seriously, isn't Dum Sim the best name for a Dim Sum simulator ever?
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