During a trip to London recently with my best friend, we found ourselves eating lunch in a restaurant in Chinatown. She had just spent the summer teaching English in China and wanted to show me everything she knew and loved about Chinese cuisine. The best part, she said, are the Chinese dumplings and ordered a portion for the table. She then began telling me about the special history of the food, which led me to do a little research myself on the topic. This brings me to the story of the Chinese Dumpling.
Dumplings go back a long way. Believe it or not, recipes for them can even be found in ancient Roman cooking texts. These first ones were extremely simplistic boiled dumpling recipes, but they are still popular all over Europe today. Filled dumplings probably developed a little later than this but Chinese chefs have been enjoying them for over 1,800 years.
According to legend, Chinese doctor Zhang Zhongjian invented Chinese dumplings during the Han Dynasty. One freezing midwinter day, Zhongjian returned to his home village to find that many of his fellow villagers and friends were suffering from frostbite, which was worst around the ears. He decided to try and help cure them by cooking up a mixture of mutton, chili and medicinal herbs and wrapping them up in ear-shaped dough for them to eat. It is unknown whether his carefully thought out mixture actually worked but the villagers enjoyed his creation so much that they continued to make it for years to come. The tradition has continued long after this occurrence and Chinese dumplings are now one of the most popular Chinese takeaway dishes of all, available at restaurants all over the globe. Take a look here.
It is believed that eating dumplings They say the shape of the dumpling is similar to that of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots – an old currency used in China – so they are also believed to bring wealth if eaten on this day. Later on, when there was a marriage or birth of a baby, those involved would treat guests to Chinese dumplings, which then became a ritual for special occasions and holidays in Northern China.
Dumplings are also often eaten at the Spring Festival in Northern China as each filling has its own specific meaning. A leek stuffing is said to symbolize long-term wealth and a wish for family to be in good health whereas a beef stuffing represents strong economic growth and is usually chosen by stock investors. If you choose a cabbage stuffing, you would be hoping to live a good life for 100 years or are hoping that your new relationship will last for a long time. This is why dumplings are often eaten at this festival as many of the fillings represent hopes for a better life or blessings for love and health – an important culture at the festival.
Feel like enhancing your wealth or improving your health? There’s no tastier way to do it than with a Chinese dumpling.