If you’re a fan of international cuisine - specifically, Chinese cuisine- you must have tried or at least heard of dumplings! Dumplings hold an exceptional significance in Chinese culture - the cuisine is incomplete without them, and if you’ve been to a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, you will find them at the top of the menu.
What are Dumplings?
Dumplings in San Francisco and worldwide are made by wrapping dough around any filling. The filling can be whatever you want it to be. From meat, chicken, and vegetables to cheese, you choose how you want to eat them. Almost every culture around the world has a variety of dumplings. You can enjoy them as soup dumplings, steamed, fried, etc.
In Chinese culture - dumplings are more than just a versatile food item. They signify comfort, hope, and prosperity. In this article, we’ll explore the centuries-old history of dumplings but remember that the next time you eat a dumpling, you do not just have a food item - you’re indulging in a significant part of Chinese culture.
The History of The Dumpling and Its Significance in Chinese Culture
Strong Roots in Chinese Folklore
Chinese folklore dates the origin of the dumpling back to the Han Dynasty. According to this legend, a traditional Chinese physician - Zhang Zhongjian, traveled back to his home village one winter and found the villagers suffering from frostbite. The disease was spreading fast and affecting the entire town.
He took scraps of dough and filled them with medicinal herbs, chili, and meat as a remedy. He fed this to the entire village, and everyone was cured in a few days. The dish has since been an integral part of Chinese cuisine and tradition.
A Strong Symbol of Love and Happiness
The legends don’t end there. It is also said that dumplings were a great way to increase the amount of food and keep more people full. When vegetables and seasonings are added to the dumplings, you don’t have to rely on the dough and meat to feed people. More options mean fuller bellies.
A Great Start to the Prosperous Year
Dumplings is also eaten on the eve of the Chinese Lunar new year to signify the start of a successful and happy year ahead. In ancient times, a typical day was split into 12 two-hour intervals in Chinese timekeeping.
The interval between 11 pm to 1 am was named Zi. The same interval was called Jiaozi. Jiaozi is very similar to the Chinese name for dumplings.
Families used to huddle together to make dumplings to eat during the jiaozi time. It is still, to date, a tradition followed, especially in the Northern parts of China. Eating these dumplings on the eve of the new year will bring immense luck and fortune to the family.
Chinese dumplings have certainly come a long way from being a cure for frostbite. They signify something special to everyone. We take our dumplings in San Francisco very seriously and pour all our love and effort into every dumpling we cook! United dumplings keep the classic recipe of the dumplings handed down through generations while also experimenting with adventurous flavors we’ve picked up over the years.