Last week we held our debut dumpling making session at the Wai Yin Society Welcome Centre in Cheetham Hill.
Home to a growing number of ethnicities from waves of immigration most prominently throughout the 19th and 20th century, Cheetham Hill is an area rich in cultural diversity in the North of Manchester. However, it has been seen in the last few decades as a deprived area with high rates of poverty and low income which makes the work of the Welcome Centre even more significant.
The Welcome centre is a community centre that has just seen its first birthday in its new premises. It provides for the vibrant community with a wide range of services and is run by the most passionate and driven people we have met in a long time. It truly is a haven for most who live in the area and we were honoured to hold our first session there. Special thanks to Lisa, Mark and Joanna who made this possible. If you are in the area you should definitely pop in to see the garden maintained by Geordie and his dedicated volunteers…
and of course, the chickens…
Onto our session. We wanted our debut to be something familiar so we began with Karolina’s national dumpling – the Pierogi. We were lucky enough to have a real Polish mama with us leading the session. Elzbieta (Ela) made sure every Pierogi was in check.
In total we had 14 women (and a baby) attending our session. Most of the women already knew the Welcome Centre and use its services, others lived around the area and wanted to take part in some dumpling making and English speaking.
After a bit of an introduction and small chat, Ela began demonstrating the steps of the Pierogi, starting with the dough.
With an abundance of realia around us, we used this opportunity to embed some English skills and spell out the ingredients Ela was using.We elicited verbs to give a running commentary of the process and quizzed the women on the different measure words and quantities used.
There were two fillings that Ela had prepared for us. She made a Russian filling with potato and cheese, and a wild mushroom and sauerkraut filling. Recipes to follow…
After the Pierogis had been folded and pinched, it was the ladies’ turn. There was a buzz of activity around the table. What was nice to observe at this moment was the natural rhythm that developed. Many hands getting stuck in; passing ingredients across the table and quiet chatter recalling the steps of the recipe.
The women shone through as professionals in the session. Kitchen skills are versatile, and tend to lend themselves well to all cuisines. The women displayed their array of cooking methods to complete the same task. A greater life lesson than any in our opinion. Food for thought some might say…
The session moved quickly as there was a great deal of teamwork. Some women even sharing their rolling tips…
Whilst filling, folding and pinching, filling, folding and pinching there was also time to have a talk about other issues that were on minds.
What Karolina and I loved was that when it came to the folding and pinching, everyone had their own personal way of doing it.
Every single dumpling came out differently.
It felt like a huge family effort to make all these parcels and it went much too quickly for our liking. It did however mean we had time to sit and eat them.
When everything was cleared, and the Pierogi boiling away in the kitchen, we took the chance to go through the written recipe a couple of times. The women reacted well to writing down the words and measurements in English, it helped to consolidate the oral dialogue.
We started eating the Pierogi served with fried onions, a little butter and of course… some Maggi seasoning (much to Ela’s disgust!). The preference for filling was divided, but most liked the wild mushroom and sauerkraut because of its unusual sour taste.
All in all a successful day! We had a lot of positive feedback and requests for more sessions, with even more English speaking if possible.
This session was useful as we were able to see a couple of the women in action and we have already verbally confirmed a future Sambuusa session led by Amran from Somalia. Watch this space…