Dumplings on Rice: Crisis Comfort

Black Box

Over the past few days, I seriously felt like screaming or hitting someone.  The most recent events have been emotionally draining and it did not help that some smart-arsed twits have been snarking most satirically about the Quirino Grandstand tragedy.  Have a heart, you idiots: what if it happened to you?!?

Times like these are not times for eating healthy.  Times like these demand food that fills the belly, fills it as if there was a void within you that can’t be filled by simple salads or a piece of fruit.  No, these are times that call for starches, meaty dumplings – properly stodgy meals that can help ease the pain even for a bit.

Double-dumpling on Nasi Lemak Lunch

The Pao Tsin dumpling kiosk has been one of my favorite go-to places for rib-sticking meals for crises since I was in college.  Back then, the only Pao Tsin along Taft Avenue was located at the La Salle campus.  Since my mom was teaching there at the time, I would ask her to buy me a batch of steamed or fried dumplings whenever the chips were down and the world was with me too much and too soon.  In later years, the dumplings could be purchased on top of greenish-hued Hainanese rice cooked in chicken broth and fragrant with garlic and ginger.

Recently, they also began offering nasi lemak – lemak rice or rice cooked in savory coconut milk – topped with toasted garlic and pulverized ikan bilis (dilis – dried and toasted anchovies) as an alternative to the usual Hainanese.  Nutty, fragrant, and most savory, it’s actually a great background to a savory meal of dumplings.  In this particular box, I opted for the thick-skinned shrimp wontons (top row) which are porky with just a hint of shrimp but are nevertheless good.  And then, because I was feeling really bad, I also got the crab wontons (orange tipped ones, bottom row) which were most flavorful.

I don’t know what it is about this combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat that makes it so comforting on dark, dreary, depressing days.  Maybe it’s because it’s perfect for filling a void in one’s self or maybe it’s because it provides warmth on a [spiritually] cold day.  But, whatever the reason, on the worst days, this really does help.

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