Leisurely Walks and Saturday Dumplings
I’m all about an exciting journey to a remote location, but sometimes it is the simple, steady routines of life that nourish us and bring us satisfaction.
And that’s what I enjoyed today – a neighborhood stroll with my family on a clear, sunshiny day and a steaming hot plate of dumplings (Chinese: jiaozi) for lunch.
Does life get any better?
A jiaozi is a steamed, fried, or boiled dumpling filled with some type of meat and vegetable. In America, we call them “pot stickers”, though the typical ones found in America are all fried and way too oily. In China, jiaozi can be a cheap lunch or a new year’s feast, depending on the occasion. Regardless of when you eat them, though, they are delicious and satisfying. Jiaozi are always eaten with some sort of accompanying sauce, usually mixed individually, according to each person’s specific flavor preferences. Dumpling restaurants usually supply each table with the various elements of a typical dipping sauce – soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, garlic, MSG, and cilantro. Each person can pick and choose according to his or her liking and mix away. I often go for a 1:1 mixture of soy sauce and vinegar and then add a splash of hot sauce and lots of cilantro – YUM.
Most Chinese people will tell you that the best dumplings are made in the north of China. Northerners are attributed with having the truest and best dumpling-making skill set. I’m not quite sure what makes their dumplings better – is it that their dumplings are more beautifully-shaped or that they actually taste better? I really don’t know. But even in the south of China (where we live), most dumpling restaurants have names like “Northeast Dumpling House” or “Northeast Dumpling King”.
One of the best things about dumplings is that they are cheap. You can eat to your heart’s content and not feel like you are breaking the bank. It’s simplicity at its best.
And so this is what my husband, myself, and our little girl do nearly every Saturday that we are home – we put our baby in her stroller, enjoy a slow, relaxing walk to our local “Northeast Dumpling House”, and order a big plate of jiaozi that we split.
It’s not fancy. It’s not elaborate. It doesn’t require a lot of planning. It’s steady and peaceful and strangely comforting.
So, I know this is a travel blog, all about going and doing and exploring. But most of us don’t spend our lives traveling. And even if we travel a lot or are currently traveling, we still crave respites in which we can stop, reflect, and enjoy something simple. I guess I find a lot of happiness in the ebb and flow, the give and take between doing and being. Having some simple routines rejuvenates me. And that’s just what I needed today.
And while I’m at it, if you’re traveling in China, let me recommend that you make sure to go to a dumpling restaurant and eat up!
What simple routines do you have that rejuvenate you?