Letter from the Editors, Vol. 2: Looking Forward to 2019

Letter from the Editors, Vol. 2: Looking Forward to 2019

Our mission at The World in a Pocket is to better understand the world through the lens of a dumpling (empanada, samosa, kolache, pupusa, etc). By having conversations with pocketmakers, developing recipes, and creating images that highlight cultural identity, we are able to talk about issues surrounding immigration, community, food sustainability, and education.

Mao’s Bao  in NYC // Photo by Lauren V. Allen

Mao’s Bao in NYC // Photo by Lauren V. Allen

We narrowed our focus last year to provide a more in depth study of a country’s pockets and culture rather than showcasing a single recipe and moving onto the next. Even though the list of pocket foods around the world is endless, it always feels like we can dig a little deeper for more information that gives more context than a dumpling can. Creating visual timelines is one of the many ways we can and learn more about the history of a place.

Viewing a historical timeline of a region or country is a great way to see, at a glance, a paraphrased version of important events. It is also a reductive way to view history, so we will do our best to use them as a tool to provide accurate information, and be open to suggestions when they come.

In 2018, we learned so much about El Salvador and the Philippines and just this week we received our first comment informing us that we missed a point about curry that came to the Philippines through British invasion. We are now on a hunt to back that up with a solid source. The best part about adding to our working timelines is that we are learning more about the place with each new data point, and we hope you are, too.

We are still figuring out where to set our sights for all of 2019, but we know we’ll be spending some time learning more about the pocket foods from China and Mexico, and the people from there who are making them here in America. Mack is working on a short documentary featuring Yen Gallagher, a deaf immigrant from Taiwan who makes very light and tasty pork and celery dumplings for her daughter, birth-to-death photographer Heather Gallagher, every time she visits Austin. And we can’t wait to tell you more about Eddie Bao, the owner of Mao’s Bao in New York City, who specializes in very weird and delicious versions of sheng jian bao, a small, pan-fried steamed bun from Shanghai. We’ll also introduce you to brothers Dani and Miguel Cobos, the brothers who founded the most delicious taqueria in Austin, Vaquero Taquero. (Yep! We went there!)

If you know of any small business owners or grandmas serving up delicious pocket foods from China or Mexico, we want to know about them! Send us an email with more information and we will do our best to help tell those stories.

Suerte  in Austin, TX // Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Suerte in Austin, TX // Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

We are aiming to maintain the momentum we built in 2018 by continuing to meet people in our community and learn about the pocket foods that come from their kitchens and continue providing guides for finding the best pocket foods around the world.

We are based in Austin and Raleigh-Durham and it is hard to keep up with all of the makers in our own communities, much less figure out where to get the best dumplings in San Francisco. But the internet makes it easy for us to reach out to a larger community and ask for recommendations, so that is exactly what we are going to do.

First up, we are creating a pocket guide to share where to find the best dumplings— samosas, hand pies, kolaches, etc. -- at farmers markets across the U.S. If you have a favorite maker that you’d like to highlight in this roundup, please shoot us an email and let us know why you love them. As the year goes on, we hope to lean on our readers (yes, you!) to help us identify the best places to get pockets, wherever you are.

Turmeric Coconut Collard Dumpling Soup, Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley and Lauren V. Allen

Alas, we have to admit that we do not subsist on pocket foods alone. Running this project is sometimes involves eating kolaches for breakfast, empanadas for lunch and dumplings for dinner, and trying to add in whole fruits and vegetables whenever we can. So we are launching “Pocket Pals,” a new section to provide recipes for things we eat to balance out our blessed, carb-loaded adventures. Yep. We’re talking salads, soups. The combos are endless, and we are excited to share what we come up with, both through raiding our kitchens when we’re hungry and new inspirations from cookbooks, which we are constantly reading.

All in all, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year here at TWINAP, and we are so grateful you are along for the ride.

How to Make a Balanced Pocket Food Breakfast

How to Make a Balanced Pocket Food Breakfast

Lucky Collard Wraps with Black-eyed Peas

Lucky Collard Wraps with Black-eyed Peas