Whether you are traveling in the north or the south of China, one delicacy you are almost sure to find on the menu is the dumpling. A universal favourite, the Chinese dumpling has a long history and is an essential part of celebratory meals such as those prepared for the Chinese lunar Spring Festival. The dumpling can be anything from a quick snack to a delicacy with which to entertain family and friends or the basis of a veritable feast. Xian, an ancient city that has been the nation's capital during no less than eleven dynasties spanning more than a thousand years is regarded as the home if not the birthplace of the great dumpling tradition. It was here that the art of creating the most tasty and delicate of dumplings was refined and no visit to the city is complete unless you partake of a Dumpling Dinner.
A well-loved story tells how long ago during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) a doctor named Zhang Zhongjing travelled back to his hometown in the county of Nanyang. He found the people were suffering from an outbreak of typhoid and dying from hunger and cold. In fact the weather was so cold that many had frostbitten ears to add to their troubles. The kindly doctor set about concocting a mixture of mutton, cayenne and a special medicine that he wrapped in a piece of ear-shaped dough. The dumplings he created were fed to the starving people and by New Year's Eve, not only were they saved from the typhoid epidemic but also their frost bitten ears were healed. The doctor's fame became legendary and thus the dumpling became a favourite addition to the Chinese diet.
This is an experience for the dumpling connoisseur, the flavours, shapes and colours will tempt the palette, while the elegant names and stories attached to each variety are truly amazing. It is no less amazing that a simple way of preparing food has become so very popular and sophisticated that it is now considered to be as much a work of art as a tasty morsel.It is said that to visit Xian without seeing the fantastic Terracotta Army as well as having a Dumpling Dinner means that you have not really been to Xian at all!