Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Who Woulda Thunk It? Canberran Prawn & Pumpkin Dumplings with Spiritual Spin

I like “who woulda thunk it” moments. 

Those instances where, as Tim Winton says, we are “moved from a fixed position”.

Who woulda thunk it? Pumpkin and prawn dumplings at a joint in Canberra, the Dickson Dumpling House (2 Cape St, Dickson ACT). Outstanding. 

In the one corner, we have pumpkin which I think of as “foona” – food as comforting as a heavy doona on a cold night (something Canberra specialises in besides politics).

In countless cafes during countless lunch hours, Aussies count on pumpkin to make things better in the ever-available pumpkin soup. And, in many homes from Parramatta to Coolangatta to all the other atta’s, it’s still the stuff that binds families together during Sunday roast dinners.

In the other corner, baby prawns (a.k.a, shrimp on the "Up Over" side of the planet). I reckon there’s no food more celebratory than the prawn.

The excitement of Aussie Christmas. The pink mountains on ice at a special-occasion hotel buffet. The guilty pleasure of a bowl filled with prawn shells after we stuff our “just one more” faces down at the Pyrmont Fish Market.

Here we have them together in one morsel. Joy and reassurance. Exuberance and stability. The celebratory and the day-to-day. East and West. Big night out and at home on the lounge in front of the telly.

You madly run around the playground with the prawns and then you get to jump on your mother’s lap with the pumpkin.

Or, the prawns are the screaming guitar solo to the pumpkin rhythm section's steady beat. (At Dickson Dumpling House, the bass was beautifully played by a Malaysian beef fried rice heavy on the tomato.)

So, yeah, I liked ‘em. They were yum. And, they sent me into a spiritual spin.

Here’s something to shock you. I sometimes struggle to make my beliefs (and my writing) orderly.

Indeed, I can be described as “Christian by faith, Ukrainian Catholic by culture, Buddhist by practice, and Islamic and Jewish by respect”. I wonder aloud if it’s self-indulgent – this bespoke Bushido of mine.

A friend with a big beard, a big hat, and a big heart gently reminded me of the luxury of my musings this week. (He isn't the serious dude making the Canberra dumplings pictured.) 

And, I’ve listened to a fine and fired-up preacher point out that when we abandoned core truths, when everything becomes personally-determined and relative, there can be a world of hurt. Bottom line: when we become our own god, right and wrong and obligation to others are seriously at risk.

Smart blokes, them. God guys. Humble guys who know tradition and history. I need to get them around a bowl of pumpkin and prawn dumplings but.

Here we have this fusion; here we have this new and improbably good thing that is created by different traditions; here we have been given, as no other generation before us, this opportunity to experience so much of the world and it’s wisdom so readily.

Are we wrong to dabble? I dunno.

Maybe, some stuff just works to get us out of bed. To remind us to be kind, helpful and thankful in our daily lives. To inspire us to build and beautify. To appreciate the divine in the little. Indeed, in the dumpling. 

Who woulda thunk it?