A Love Letter to Chinese Dumplings Posted by sasha on Apr 27, 2014 in Culture, festivals, food, Leisure, Vocabulary
Dear Chinese dumplings,
It’s been months since we last met, yet it feels like ages. Sure, I’ve come across restaurants throughout SE Asia claiming to serve the real deal, but it’s just not the same. Back when I called Beijing home, I took you for granted. I realize that now, and I’m terribly sorry. You were always there when I needed you – warmth on a bitter cold winter day, a tasty meal in between painfully long days of teaching English, and my standby when I could recognize nothing else on the menu. From the simple ready-made plates served up on street corners all across the city, to the fancy restaurants with countless options for delicious fillings, you were and always will be my favorite Chinese dish. I love you in all of your different states – boiled, steamed, and fried. I even love your split personalities – wonton soup and Shanghai style xiao long bao.
Few things in life compare to the feeling I get when a steaming hot plate of you arrives on my table, and I excitedly mix up a bowl of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and chili to soak you in. Memories of Spring Festival gatherings fill my head when I think of you – Chinese families coming together for their annual reunion, spending hours upon hours in the kitchen to whip up hundreds of delectable morsels. I’ve even tried my hand at this legendary culinary art, in the home of a Chinese teacher, in the wonderful Hutong School of Beijing, and in the backpacker haven of the Lazy Bones hostel in Chengdu. Although I never quite mastered the art, I’ve always admired those who know how to make you. One of these days, I promise I will learn. Until that day, I will dream of that glorious moment when we will meet again. Once upon a time, I would sit in China thinking of the comfort food from home that I missed. These days, I sit at home or on the road and think of you. I know you’ll be there for me when I touch down on Chinese soil once again this summer, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
Useful Dumpling Vocabulary
- dumplings (饺子 – jiǎo zi; 水饺 – shuǐ jiǎo)
- steamed (蒸的 – zhēng de)
- boiled (煮的 – zhǔ de)
- fried (炸的 – zhà de)
- soy sauce (酱油 – jiàng yóu)
- garlic (大蒜 – dà suàn)
- vinegar (醋 – cù)
- chili (辣椒 – là jiāo)
- wonton (馄饨 – hún tún)
- xiao long bao (小笼包 – xiǎo lóng bāo)