One of the most traditional but representative foods in China is now widely known to the world. They are also indispensable for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year AKA Spring Festival.
The reason is, that the dumplings are made in the shape of China’s ancient money – ingots. People eat dumplings during Chinese New Year (CNY) to wish good wealth in the new year. Secondly, people can be creative, they stuff the dumplings in their own way and to make their own personal wishes.
The classic dumpling stuffing is pork mince mixed with garlic chives or Chinese cabbage. These are savoury dumplings and great to dip in vinegar. Also, some people may want to increase the flavour by adding chili sauce and sesame oil to the vinegar. This is the ‘must have’ dish to eat new year’s eve, through midnight and into new year’s day, for almost all people residing in the north of China. Many provinces in the south of China used to have ‘Tang Yuan’ (sticky rice balls with sweet stuffing) as their tradition, however, the savoury dumplings have become more dominant for the whole of the country in the recent few decades.
When making ‘creative’ dumplings, people often put gold coins, candy, peanuts, jujube (similar to dates) and chestnuts into the stuffing. Those who eat coins and candy will have wealthy and sweet lives in the coming year. Those who eat peanuts will live longer and healthier. Those who eat jujube and chestnuts will have a baby!
In some areas of China, while eating dumplings, people may also have a combination of side dishes. Such as eating tofu, this means happiness for the whole family; eating dried persimmon, means everything is going well. People in Taiwan eat fish balls, meat balls and Nostocceae(1) together, for regular family reunions and wealth.
Dumplings, which is a festive food, has brought joy and great taste to people, worldwide. They have become the main representative food of the China’s food culture.
- a plant which grows in the desert and the pronunciation in Mandarin is ‘Fa Cai’ – it sounds like the typical CNY greeting for good wealth – ‘Kung hei Fat Choi’.