Manti are Turkish dumplings, traditionally filled with lamb, served in soups or with yoghurt. They vary greatly in size. The smaller the manti, the more hard working and thorough the cook (often a woman) is thought to be. The form of the manti is, therefore, a direct reflection on character. When a couple becomes engaged in Kayseri, a region in central Anatolia, Turkey, the bride to be must prepare manti for her prospective mother-in-law. The dumplings should ideally be so small that 40 (!) of them can fit onto one soupspoon. When I asked my Turkish friend Ali about how large his mother’s manti are, he jokingly answered: “They’re huge. She just doesn’t give a shit!”

When my Italian grandmother was engaged to my grandfather she also had to cook tagliatelle for her future mother-in-law. Luckily the verdict was: “These are so thin, they are delightful!”

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