Adventures in Culture and Travel

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21 March, 2009

Baozi | Chinese Dumplings


 Look for a Dim Sum restaurant. 
The way they usually work is that the servers
 come round with those bamboo steamers 
and sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves on carts
 - if you see something you fancy you take the steamer
 and they stamp your car. 
At the end they tally up the stamps.
 
One of the things I love about big cities like Los Angeles, New York or London is the food. London by far has been my favorite. Almost every imaginable food is available, and generally within walking distance. One of the foods that I haven't found in this area (yet) is the Chinese Dumpling (which I  is called a Baozi). (Apparently I'm to look for a Dim Sum restaurant.) I've been longing to try one since Anthony Bourdain stated it was the "have-to" Chinese food. I was falsely advised that the English translation of Jiaozi means "heinous excursion", but Tanner Brown in Bejing laughed at what could have been a good band's name:

"Jiao literally means dumpling (specifically the non-round, smaller one made of a ravioli-type skin -- as opposed to the breaded skin). Zi meanwhile is merely a noun suffix - it might be translated as 'thing.' Zi does have other meanings, such as 'master' or 'son' but in these cases the tone, and therefore pronunciation, is different. The bao in baozi has several meanings, but they're all what you might expect: 'wrap,' 'surround,' bundle,' 'sack,' etc.")

 So you can imagine my delight when we're walking through China Town in London and just after doing the tango with a giant panda bear, we discover a little market with a young Chinese woman and a fresh batch of Chinese dumplings.

Shannon still talks about the Panda bear.
Stuffed with pork, beef, or chicken, a baozi can be very small almost bite-size (Xiaolongbao) or If you find them like we did they're about 6-8 inches round, hand-pressed closed breading (Mantou) with a Asian stew filling consisting of meats and/or vegetables. They are, for a better lack of the words... simply the most amazing Chinese food I've ever eaten. It should be, it's their comfort food. It's a recipe, I've vowed to tackle in the next few months.

There's something to be said with waking up in the morning, hitting an authentic French Bakery for breakfast in London, and then walking the streets for lunch eating a baozi dumpling. We so often forget how much taste is a sense, and providing our brain the necessary sensory input during certain experiences can make the journey so much more fun!

The vendor realized we "weren't from around here" with our American dialects, and asked "where are you from?" Shannon replied "North Carolina". We might as well been speaking to Greek, because from the look on her face she didn't recognize that country.