About Above the Fold

DUMPLINGS ARE THE ULTIMATE LABORS OF LOVE: Making them requires lots of time and meticulous skill, while eating them is the culinary equivalent to someone wrapping their arms around you and giving you a giant squeeze. “A cook who decides to make these has to really want to please whomever they’re feeding,” the cookbook author Olia Hercules once wrote in the New Yorker. “But that is one of the reasons why dumplings are so enjoyable to eat.”

It's worth remembering that for every dumpling that appears in a “best dumplings” or “dumplings from around the world” listicle, there’s a person who took the time to seal dough around filling over and over again—which is why Above the Fold tells stories about this beloved foodstuff through the people whose varied lived experiences go into making them.

Of course, people don't only make dumplings in order to demonstrate intense care for others. For some, the hard-won skill of making them becomes the mechanism for financial independence. For others, they're the tether between the maker and their cultural history and regional or family traditions. 

While Above the Fold began as—and remains—an email newsletter, I consider a print zine to be a particularly relevant medium. It’s tactile, it’s intimate, it’s gratifyingly and sometimes frustratingly labor-intensive, it’s a small and densely packed parcel that will hopefully bring you comfort and escape in a place where you don’t need a screen.

The thing about making dumplings, like many forms of art and craft, is that you’re only as technically skilled as the work you put in: You can’t get that perfect pleated dumpling without leaving a few hundred rough-around-the-edges ones in your wake. It’s something I remind myself about making the first issue of this publication, as well. My first print dumpling. Luckily, the lumpy ones taste just as delicious.

—Leah Mennies, founder/editor/creative director

On Compensation: Whenever possible, Above the Fold compensates all parties who contribute—not just those who contribute art or words, but also those whose personal stories and intellectual property form the heart of stories in the publication. Is paying sources a questionable practice? I think it depends on the use case—for most of these purposes, where busy craftspeople are taking an hour or more out of their lives to share their stories, I see it as a more equitable way to acknowledge their time and contribution. Think of it as an honorarium, but for something printed instead of delivered on stage or at a lectern.