The Rich History of the Chinese Dumpling

chilihouse-dumplings

Chinese dumplings are far more significant than merely a delicious snack. There is unique symbolism associated with this cultural food staple, and a rich history that extends far beyond your dinner plate. Consider some of the historical significance of the Chinese dumpling or “jiaozi”, and consider serving some up to commemorate this intriguing past.

Some interesting facts about the dumpling include: 

The History

Exploring the rich history of dumplings, there are many variations dating back to Ancient Rome. Chinese dumplings, however, have been around since Ancient China, with cultural significance going back over 1,800 years. Dumplings were first introduced by a healer named Zhang Zhongjing who created little dough-wrappers filled with lamb, chili, and herbs to feed the freezing and ill members of his community. Warmed by the tasty boiled treats in flavorful broth, many were “healed” of their frostbite and other maladies.

The Traditions

Beyond its medicinal qualities, the Chinese dumpling has adopted a celebratory significance in contemporary society. These dumplings are a New Year’s tradition and it is believed that you cannot welcome the new year without this traditional dish. Dumplings represent happiness and celebration and are typically served on Chinese New Year’s, which occurs during the Spring Festival.

The Fillings

The small, precise shape of an authentic Chinese dumpling is intended to mimic the look of gold or silver “ingots”, which are good-luck coins. It is common to place a coin inside each dumpling on Spring Festival Eve, a Chinese holiday in February this year. These savory pouches often contain meats, seafood, and veggies, though there is no one-way to make these dumplings. These often serve as a main dish on Chinese tables.

Sometimes, the fillings signify something that you hope to gain from eating the snack, such as:

Beef dumplings are thought to encourage economic growth.

Fish dumplings could mean a surplus of wealth for the diner.

Celery stuffing is associated with industriousness, which could lead to money.

Cabbage filling will bring good luck and wealth for the next hundred years!

Mushrooms are used to bring wealth and good fortune to those eating them.

The Preparation

There is a lot of preparation and culinary work involved in making these Chinese dumplings. It is a bonding experience among many families, as making dumplings can be a laborious, time-consuming task.

The Popularity

In many parts of the world, and in China, steamed or boiled dumplings are a mainstay of the diet. These dumplings are quickly becoming a chic snack to nosh on in Western society, too. For instance, Chinese-style dumplings are a San Francisco restaurant staple, a region with a Chinese population and influence.

Teach your family about the rich history of the tasty and traditional Chinese dumpling. Visit specialty stores in your area to pick up essentials- rice papers, produce, and poultry- to create your own delicious spin on these Asian treats. Enjoy some insight into the cultural significance and historical meaning behind these tiny filled dumplings!

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