Interesting Stories Behind Chinese Dishes: Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

Nowadays Chinese cuisine is so well-known throughout the world that many people may be able to recite the names of a few Chinese dishes. But do you know that each dish has its own story behind it? Now, follow Annie to find out the story behind Jiaozi – Chinese dumplings.

Interesting Stories Behind Chinese Dishes - Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

Jiaozi and Zhang Zhongjing

Jiaozi is a house-hold delicious food. It is said Jiaozi was eaten in the midnight on the New Years’ Eve. According to the ten Heavenly Stems in combination with the twelve Earthly Branches, the time when Jiaozi was eaten means good luck in the New Year. The earliest record of Jiaozi dated from the Han Dynasty. Some well-preserved Jiaozi was found in a wooden bowl excavated from a Tang Dynasty’s tomb in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the 1960’s.

Jiaozi with filling inside is crescent-shaped and looks like people’s ear. In a sense, Jiaozi is also called “Jiao’er” (Er is a Chinese character, meaning ear). It is said that Jiaozi was invented by Zhang Zhongjing, a well-known medical sage.

At the end of the East Han Dynasty people around the country got sick because of a serious natural disaster. In the winter local people’s ears were seriously frozen for the cold weather and lack of food. To cure them Zhang Zhongjing made crescent-shaped Jiaozi with the hot fillings such as mutton, hot pepper and some herbal medicine which can get rid of algidity. The filling ingredients were enclosed in flour and water dough. After being boiled, Jiaozi were dispatched to sick men. Upon eating them, the ill were filled with warmth, their poor blood circulation began to work well, and their ears warmed up. To cure the numerous patients, Zhang Zhongjing kept making Jiaozi till the New Year’s Eve. When the New Year came, the common folk, ever grateful to the doctor, would all continue to make this food in homage of Zhang’s magical cure.

Interesting Stories Behind Chinese Dishes - Learning to make Jiaozi (dumplings)

Nowadays, Jiaozi, no longer used to cure the kibed ears, has become the favorite daily food in China. Making Jiaozi in Spring Festival also becomes the best way of memorizing this Chinese medical sage.

Jiaozi and Wang Xizhi

Wang Xizhi is an excellent calligraphist in ancient China, and he had a story with Jiaozi. When Wang Xizhi was young, his calligraphy was outstanding and so he was embedded with praises. Little by little, Wang Xizhi began not to focus on studying calligraphy. One day he saw an old lady making Jiaozi adeptly. Wang Xizhi knew it needs skill to make crescent shaped Jiaozi with pleated edges. So he asked the lady how long she had commanded this skill of making such delicious Jiaozi. The lady said: “If anyone wants to be adept in one skill, he should devote his life to that.” Hearing that, Wang Xizhi realized that he should keep on exercising calligraphy and dedicate all his time and energy to it. And he did become a predominant calligraphist later.

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