Why Potstickers Are Sometimes Called 'Peking Ravioli' In Boston

food, why potstickers are sometimes called 'peking ravioli' in boston

Potstickers on white plate

New Englanders have a unique way of saying things that non-residents or newcomers can find simultaneously charming, and downright strange. Where else, besides maybe Wisconsin, will you hear a water fountain referred to as a bubbler? In a place where “wicked” means “amazing” and “r” is frequently replaced with “h” it should come as no surprise that, when it comes to food items, the city of Boston has some pretty unique names for certain foods (via Business Insider).

For Boston, foods like Boston baked beans, Boston cream pie, clam chowder, and iconic Fenway Franks cannot be removed from the identity of the city, according to They are the foods people think of when they think of Boston, not just because of the name, but because of the region, the city represents. However, despite Boston being known almost worldwide for its uniquely Irish character, another group of immigrants has left their indelible mark on the Hub of the Universe, per History. The Chinese have had a remarkable influence on Boston, with Chinese Americans going so far as to create unique spins on classic dishes that you likely won’t find anywhere outside New England. Peking ravioli is one such dish.

Chinese, Irish, And Italians Working Together

food, why potstickers are sometimes called 'peking ravioli' in boston

Peking ravioli

You probably know them as potstickers or dumplings, but in Boston, they’re known as Peking ravioli. Looking at a map of Boston, you’ll see that the downtown neighborhoods are squeezed close together. The North End, a predominantly Italian neighborhood, is not too far away from Chinatown. This is worth noting. According to NPR, Boston was and remains heavily populated by Irish and Italian immigrants and their descendants. Chinese food, as a result, was greatly influenced by these two cultures.

The early Chinese population in Boston was so small that their restaurants could not stay in business catering to the neighborhood alone. At the turn of the 20th century, the low-wage-earning Irish and Italian immigrants became the first non-Chinese people in Boston to begin eating Chinese food. It was affordable and something different for the immigrants to try. It’s this relationship that gave Peking ravioli its name. PBS icon Joyce Chen opened her first restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusettes in 1958. She changed the name of the classic dumplings to Peking ravioli to appeal to her Italian clientele. The name stuck, which is why you’re likely to see Peking ravioli on Boston Chinese food menus. It’s a nice nod to the melting-pot immigrant community that defines Boston to this day.

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