I was perusing the A&P ads today during work deciding what groceries to purchase this week. And I stumbled upon this item on your left.
"Joyce Chen Ravioli"?!!?? What??!! Shouldn't it be "Joyce Chen Dumplings"? I can't really see the picture too well but based on the fillings which consist of either chicken & vegetables or pork & vegetables, I would assume this item is more akin to dumplings than ravioli. Plus I don't think a woman with the name of "Joyce Chen" would be touting her ravioli skills to America. Initially, I felt annoyed. I think the American public is aware of what dumplings are and there's no need to compare it to a more popular mainstream dish that people are familiar with. These aren't "Chinese Tamales" here (which frankly are really difficult to explain so I'm not even going to try). So I thought to myself, let me look up this Joyce Chen person.
Apparently, she was a Chinese chef, restauranteur, and entrepeneur. She had restaurants, cookbooks, and sold other products under her name. Chen is credited with popularizing the Mandarin style of Chinese cooking in the U.S. Her focus was making Chinese food accessible to the American public. She actually called dumplings or potstickers "ravioli" because her first restaurant was in a predominantly Italian area. Also, please keep in mind that Chen was alive from 1917-1994 so these were different times when she was starting out. Apparently, Chinese restaurants in the greater Boston, MA area still call dumplings "Peking Ravioli" or "ravs". So now that I know the history, I can accept the usage of ravioli for dumplings. It's clearly part of the Joyce Chen legecy and a nod to her history. However, I really hope people in Boston aren't really saying "ravs" still because that type of colloquialism would probably annoy me if I heard it.