Two food items that rock my world right now are striking in their similarity: hand sized portions of a starch jammed with filling, gift wrapped and steamed to edible perfection.
I am grateful that my place, both on the planet and in history, allow for these foods to coexist in my diet because the origin locations are about as distant from one another as is physically possible. Chinese zongzi (glutenous rice dumplings) are usually wrapped in bamboo leaves into a pyramid shape and filled with things like cubes of roasted pork, boiled eggs, shredded chicken, taro, and Chinese sausage. The ones pictured, from Kam Man supermarket on Canal Street, have a filling of azuki beans, boiled peanuts, and shiitake mushrooms.
The tamale stand in my ‘hood is run by a mother & son from Oaxaca. The mother does the cooking, wrapping and steaming her tamales in corn husks after filling them with chicken in salsa verde, pork in salsa roja , picante queso & vegetables, or a sweet version studded with raisins.
Zongzi and tamales are serious comfort foods, despite neither being part of my experience till long after my childhood.