I’m almost into my last 3 months in China. Blogging my life here has not happened as regularly as I’d have liked. Mostly due to concerns early on when the school I work for discovered the blog and told me I couldn’t write it. It doesn’t help that the site I use is blocked either, as it means I have to connect to my VPN to load, which takes forever depending on the whim of the government in Beijing at the time, and makes WordPress sluggish and prone to crashing.
To make up for my ineptitude as a blogger, I’m challenging myself in my last 3 months to try to reveal a little of life in China as an expat. I’m going to frame it as a love/hate series, where I post one thing that I dislike, or that is difficult, about living China with something that is great. I’m going to come right out and say that after almost 2 years the first list feels much longer. So this challenge will also be cathartic, and force me to look at China and my experiences here through a heavy dose of rose tint.
I’m going to start with a Love, and no surprises, it’s a food:
Jiaozi – Chinese dumplings, or 饺子 (can I just say, I typed that character by drawing it onto the keypad & identifying the characters!)
I discovered these little lumps of goodness last time I was in China. Long freezers full of them line every local supermarket. The local food hall has various counters where you can wait ages (comparatively speaking) for them, or if you’re starving (as we usually are) the fried variety (guotie) are already made, although of varying degrees of freshness and warmth!
Jiaozi are traditionally eaten at lunar new year, and the making of them is a family affair. Their ‘gold nugget’ shape is said to represent wealth and prosperity. Other historical accounts say the original name was jiao’er (tender ears) as they were used to treat frost bitten ears. More historical info here
Likeness to ears aside, they’re amazing dipped in vinegar and chilli or soy. They are also really easy to make – especially as most western countries sell the wrappers in stores nowadays. For easy recipe ideas and excellent video/photo instructions for jiaozi, guotie AND the pastry, check out meat loves salt,
While my daughter and I often made these at home in Australia, there’s no chance we’d bother here. Not when we can buy a massive plate of them for about 20 Kwai (£2 or $4). Here is our local food hall dumpling counter. There’s always a very long line, and it’s a ‘first to fight your way to the counter, first served’ basis.