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The Unique History of Dumplings

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Did you know that a dumpling eating record was set in Sydney, Australia in 2019?

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, they held a celebration in Sydney in which 764 people all ate dumplings at the same time. They met the previous record in 2013 when 750 individuals participated.

Whether you choose to eat them at a massive celebration or in the comfort of your home, dumplings are an indisputable part of global cuisine. But where exactly did this tasty meal stem from?

We’re here to fill you in! Check out our guide below to learn the evolution and ancient history of dumplings! 

Intro to the History of Dumplings

Dumplings have popped up in various cultures throughout history. The easiest way to narrow down their origin though is by first asking: what is a dumpling?

Dumplings are pieces of dough that are fried, boiled, steamed, or baked. Typically the dough holds meat or vegetable fillings. Occasionally the dough is cooked without fillings.

We can trace dumpling-like recipes as far back as Ancient Rome. However, the classic dumpling we all know and love has its origins in Ancient China.

The history of Chinese dumplings began over 1,800 years ago under the Eastern Han Dynasty. A man named Zhang Zhongjian returned to his home village and found that the villagers were suffering from frostbite.

Zhongjian was a medicinal practitioner and searched for a way to assist his fellow villagers. To fight the cold, Zhongjian blended together meat, vegetables, and herbs and wrapped the mixture in scraps of dough. The dumplings were then steamed to bind all the ingredients together.

It’s believed that Zhongjian used his skills as a doctor to create the dumplings. He chose herbs that would help combat frostbite and keep the villagers safe and healthy.

The steaming hot dish was a good way to fight the ill effects of a harsh winter. The villagers enjoyed the meal so much that they continued to make dumpings even when spring arrived.

The Spread of Dumplings

The history of dumplings doesn’t end with its conception in Ancient China nearly 2,000 years ago. Dumplings have pervaded throughout the centuries, and they’ve evolved and changed to fit the needs of the people.

We can see the passage of dumplings as early as the 1300s. At this time, traders often carried their goods along the Silk Road. It’s suspected that this is how one dumpling recipe came to pass from one culture to the next.

At this time, it’s suspected that the Turkish peoples adopted the manti dumplings, likely from the Mongolian peoples traversing the Silk Road. Manti dumplings are made from a spiced meat mixture—typically lamb or ground beef—which is then wrapped in a thin dough before they’re boiled or steamed.

This type of dumpling is most commonly compared to the Chinese jiaozi and baozi dumplings. The manti steamed buns are now a staple even in Russia and post-Soviet countries, where they’ve crossed over from Central Asia.

Pierogi is the Polish word for dumplings and another dumpling variety that many Westerners have grown familiar with. Pierogi—which is actually the plural of the word pieróg—are a Polish staple and are even commemorated with a yearly festival. These dumplings, wrapped in unleavened dough, are stuffed with either savory or sweet fillings before they’re boiled and then pan-fried.

Pierogi have a debated origin story. However, some suspect that pierogi entered Poland from China via the Silk Road, much like the manti dumplings that emerged in Turkish culture. 

Additional Cultural Adaptations

While China is often considered the earliest origin site for what we now refer to as dumplings, other dumpling variations have cropped up around the globe since then. Whether you travel through Latin America, Africa, or Central Europe, you’re sure to find the local take on dumplings.

Many dumpling recipes arose as a solution to poverty. It’s much cheaper to combine a ration of meat with vegetables and dough scraps than to create a more meat-hearty entree.

Many of these recipes even take a different route and create sweetened dumplings, perfect for desserts. Others incorporate cheese, much like the Italian ravioli and tortellini and the potato-based gnocchi. You’ll even see an American spin on dumplings in the classic Southern chicken and dumplings dish. 

The Globalization of Chinese Dumplings

However, the tasty variations from China still prevail around the world and are a notable addition to American cuisine.

In fact, Chinese food in general has become an integral part of the diets of many Americans. It’s likely that dumplings, as with many other popular Chinese dishes, arrived around the same time.

Chinese immigration to the U.S. began in the 1800s, so we can safely assume that dumplings arrived in the U.S. at this time as well. The Chinese diaspora would still indulge in traditional Chinese celebrations throughout the year. Food played an important role in these celebrations.

By the mid-1800s, Chinese restaurants were becoming more popularized in America. Chinatowns, such as the largest one in San Francisco, were growing in popularity, and their cuisine was too.

Dumplings were but one of many Chinese dishes to emerge in America, but the mass Chinese immigration in the 19th century certainly solidified the dumpling as an addition to the ever-evolving Chinese-American cuisine.

The Importance of Dumplings

The history of dumplings stretches back hundreds of years and has been passed down by hundreds of thousands of hungry travelers and chefs. We’re happy to say that there’s a dumpling for everyone, whether you’re indulging in Chinese potstickers or Italian ravioli!

For more articles on travel and your favorite foods, check out the rest of our website!

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9 of the Best Places to Visit in Florida

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Florida is a hotspot for Americans traveling domestically and for international travelers as well. It’s home to some of the biggest theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney World. 

Plus, it offers some of the most incredible beaches in North America. How can you be that? But the most amazing thing about Florida is that there isn’t just one or two cities that have something to offer.

In fact, there are multiple cities that are great for vacation, and there’s something for everyone. On that note, take a look at this list of the best places to visit in Florida:

1. Miami

Everyone knows that Miami is one of the best places to visit in Florida. It’s one of the top hotspots for vacationers looking to live it up with their hair down.

If you want to sit on a beautiful beach, Miami’s got it. If you want fine dining, Miami’s got it. When you’re trying to figure out where to go in Florida, Miami is the answer.

This city is known for being flashy, and if you want to do a big vacation, this is the place to go all out.

2. Orlando

Orlando is another one of the best places to visit in Florida. How can anyone say no to Disney World and SeaWorld? If you’re looking for the ultimate vacation, Orlando is the spot.

With all the theme parks and water parks that this city offers, you’ll never get bored. Even if you’re not into big parks, they also offer fun activities at Universal CityWalk.

Also, Orlando isn’t just for little kids. This is also a great place for a group of teenage or college kids to visit for a fun getaway.

3. Naples 

When you’re thinking about visiting Florida, don’t forget about Naples. It’s one of Florida’s gulf coast cities, and it’s located in an upscale region. It’s adorned with a nice stretch of beachfront that accompanied by elaborate houses and luxurious resorts.

When you and your lover want to get away, this is the place to go. Not to mention, the beaches in Naples offer some of the best in the entire state. The warm waters provide a nice soothing feel that vacationers can’t deny.

Also, if you want to do something out of the box, check out the best Florida helicopter rides to book an exciting excursion!

4. Tampa

There may not be much sand and water in Tampa, but it’s still one of the best places to go in Florida. It’s filled with famous attractions like Busch Gardens and the Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park.

If you have children, they’ll also love visiting the Tampa Aquarium and taking a walk through the Big Cat Rescue. When you’re not in the mood for the big theme parks of Orlando, Tampa is an awesome alternative.

5. Key West

Key West sits at the southern tip of Florida, and it provides visitors with an island feel. It’s one of the best places to visit in Florida because of its beautiful water. It’s the perfect alternative for travelers who want the experience of an island getaway without leaving the country.

However, if you do decide to take an international trip, Key West is one of the main cruise ship ports for cruise lovers. You can always spend a few days in Key West, hop on the ship, and come back. It provides the perfect getaway.

6. Fort Myers

When you’re thinking about visiting Florida, Fort Myers might not be one of the first places you think about. however, it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s known as the River District, and it provides travelers and residents with a lot to do.

There is plenty of dining, shopping, and sightseeing. Plus, Fort Myers is home to the IMAG History and Science Center which allows visitors to experience the city in 3D virtual reality.

This town is also situated on the shores of Estero Island, which is slightly separated from the mainland. It’s a hotspot for honeymooners and celebrities.

7. Sanibel Island

If you don’t know where to go in Florida, check out Sanibel Island. It’s just off the West coast of Florida and it’s home to many high-end resorts. There are also numerous water activities for visitors to get into, as well as incredible shopping boutiques and galleries for guests to enjoy.

Although this city is popular amongst tourists, it’s not as famous as some of the other cities in Florida. So if you want a nice getaway that’s not too crowded with tourists, this is it.

8. Pensacola

Pensacola is known for its awesome beaches and laid back, down-home environment. This is an area that many college students like to visit on the weekends or for a spring break vacation. It’s also a nice escape for the surrounding Florida towns that don’t have a beach.

If you’re a local resident, Pensacola is the perfect place to go for a weekend beach vacay.

9. Daytona Beach

Chances are you’ve heard about the Daytona 500 NASCAR race that’s held every year in Daytona. But outside of the big races, many people decide to go to Daytona for the beaches. It too is a hot spot for spring breakers and other visitors who want a fun time.

Daytona Beach spans over 23 miles of the Atlantic ocean, and it’s accompanied by a pier filled with games, restaurants, and amusement park rides.

The Best Places to Visit in Florida

If you didn’t know before, now you know that visiting Florida is a smart choice. It works well for couples who want to get away, a girl’s trip, and a family trip. This list of the best places to visit in Florida has something for everyone.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to read more of our blog posts. We cover content relating to different destinations, the best ways to travel, food, and much more. You’ll love it!

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Scrumptious 3 Easy Dessert Recipes To Try Out Today

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Are you planning a dinner party soon and not quite sure how to end it?

You wouldn’t dare think of getting dessert delivered in these times when between 46 and 54 percent of people have become burgeoning cooks.

If you’re not one of those master-chefs-in-the-making, don’t worry. Simple desserts are delicious too.   

Check out these easy dessert recipes that make it look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

1. Everybody’s Favorite Brownies

This one is for all those who’ve tried to make brownies and failed before. This delectable dessert is notoriously temperamental for its too soft or too crunchy outcome. 

Here’s how to get it perfectly right the first time, quickly and easily.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of melted butter
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • ½ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 t of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ t of baking powder
  • ½ t of salt
  • ½ cup of walnut halves

Method:

  1. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the walnuts and then spread the batter into the prepared pan. Decorate with the walnut halves if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick and continue baking until the toothpick comes out coated with crumbs.
  4. Cool on a wire rack.

Brownies are delicious when served plain or topped with ice cream or cream.

2. Simple and Delicious Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate and coffee are two of everyone’s favorite flavors. You can never have too much of a good thing, combine and you’ve got a showstopper dessert. 

Here goes…

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 1 Full-size pack of Oreo cookies, crushed finely
  • 8 T of unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ t espresso powder

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 14 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 1 ½ t espresso powder
  • 24 ounces full-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T of Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ t of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of heavy cream

Ingredients for the Ganache:

  • 1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 1 ¼ cups of heavy cream
  • ¼ cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 t espresso powder

Espresso beans and chocolate shavings to garnish

All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Method:

  1. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs, butter, and espresso powder in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Press the crust into the pan, pressing it down firmly, and place the crust in the freezer.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Fill a medium-sized pot one-third full with water and bring it to a simmer.
  2. Find a heatproof bowl that fits the top of the pan snugly and place it on top of the pan. It should not touch the water.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the chocolate to the bowl. Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate’s melted.
  4. Remove from the heat but leave the bowl of chocolate balanced on the pan. Stir in the espresso powder and set aside.
  5. Pulse the cream cheese in a food processor for about two minutes until smooth.
  6. Add the sugars and the cocoa powder. Beat until smooth.
  7. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix for about 20 seconds until just combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate.
  9. Take the bowl out of the food processor and stir the filling with a rubber spatula until it’s evenly combined.
  10. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the filling inside, smoothing the top.
  11. Transfer your cheesecake to the refrigerator.
  12. Leave to chill for at least six hours.

To Make the Ganache:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Bring the cream to a low simmer in a small saucepan and pour half the cream over the chocolate pieces.
  3. Set aside for two minutes.
  4. Whisk the melted chocolate/cream mix into the remaining cream.
  5. Whisk carefully until it’s smooth and glossy.
  6. Add the butter and stir the mixture with a spatula until the butter’s melted, then fold in the espresso powder.
  7. Set aside half a cup of the ganache until needed and pour the rest over the chilled cheesecake.
  8. Sprinkle the cheesecake with the chocolate shavings and set aside for one hour.
  9. Place the remaining ganache into a piping bag and pipe stars around the edge of the cheesecake. Top each star with a coffee bean.

To serve, slice the chilled cheesecake with a sharp knife. Wipe the blade clean after each slice. 

You can store this dessert in the refrigerator for up to four days, so it’s a great make-ahead option.

3. Easy Dessert Recipes With Cake

You simply can’t go wrong with cake and cupcakes are one of the world’s favorite treats. 

They’re easy to dress up or down and look fantastic displayed on a cupcake tower at dessert time. Try this easy vanilla cupcake recipe:

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:

  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 cup of water

Ingredients for the Frosting:

  • ½ cup of salted butter
  • ½ cup of shortening
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ t vanilla extract
  • 2–3 T of water or milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place cupcake liners in your cupcake pan.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Slowly add the water and mix slowly until combined. The batter will be thin.
  6. Spoon the batter into your prepared cupcake liners.
  7. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 17 minutes.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Combine the butter and shortening and mix until smooth.
  2. Add two cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth, then add the vanilla essence.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar and enough water or milk to reach the desired consistency.
  4. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

You can decorate these cupcakes with sprinkles, chocolate, or fruit, depending on your preferences. 

Cooking Up a Storm

Armed with these easy dessert recipes you’re ready to wow your guests and impress your friends at your next dinner party. 

In case you’re wondering what’s for the main course, browse our blog for more awesome food and drink ideas for every occasion. 

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Tracking COVID-19 Restrictions by Country Using an Interactive Tool

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Skyscanner develops an interactive tool that provides travelers with information regarding the different travel restrictions per country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a multitude of travel restrictions all around the world to contain the transmission of the deadly virus. Americans are now peppered with so many travel-abroad regulations due to the rapid—and seemingly unending—increase in cases. If you plan to make a trip abroad, it can be difficult to obtain relevant and up-to-date information on the specific travel requirements for either your state of origin or your intended destination. This is because these requirements are regularly updated and modified depending on the COVID-19 situation at the moment.

More and more countries, however, are providing detailed travel restrictions and monitoring tools. Skyscanner’s interactive COVID-19 travel map is, by far, one of the most sophisticated ones. The tool is in its beta version and can be perused via Skyscanner’s website. The map can be used to check the different travel restrictions of the different countries represented. Countries are color-coded, displaying those with low, moderate, and heavy travel restrictions which are in green, yellow, and red, respectively. Countries that do not have data, however, are colored gray. A user’s specific country of origin is colored gray, as well, during a search.

You can click through the different destinations. You can also scroll through the list of suggested destinations provided. By doing so, you can find out about the travel restrictions per country and even check the latest updates in terms of current COVID-19 cases, the rate of transmission, the difference in case numbers as compared to the previous week, and so on. You are also offered the option to sign up for email notifications as regards succeeding COVID-19 updates regarding a particular country.

The said Skyscanner tool was introduced in November. It makes use of data obtained from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the updates on travel restrictions plus COVID-19 case rates from the John Hopkins University.

The tool is an initiative that resulted from Skyscanner’s American survey as regards attitudes toward the different travel restrictions imposed which prevented easy trips locally and internationally. Out of the 1,000 respondents, about 51% mentioned that they did not have adequate confidence on the knowledge they had about the travel restrictions of the places they wanted to visit. Despite this fact, many Americans have been found to be browsing through international airfare.

“People want to travel and we know there is pent-up demand from the searches we are seeing for flights and for more information; but confidence has been hit by the lack of consistency between countries worldwide regarding measures and restrictions,” shares U.S. travel expert for Skyscanner, Mark Crossey. “Consumers just don’t understand the complex rules and are crying out for transparent, detailed information,” Crossey adds.

Crossey points out, however, that there are only a few countries that offer quarantine-free visits. At the moment, merely 13 countries are indicated as green. 212 countries are colored orange or even red. He asserts that the Skyscanner tool is only a piece of the solution. Countries all over the world must have a standard set of travel restrictions including testing protocols and quarantine procedures before travelling can become easier.   

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