Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Haochi Jaozi

I had said I was going to cut back on my food intake. My pants are all fitting tightly, which is uncomfortable, and clothing shopping here is less fun than a root canal due to the 'enthusiastic' assistance of the shop attendants. In Beijing I have not been able to keep up my New York schedule of swimming three times each week and walking everywhere is not an option due to the pollution levels. That, combined with the abundance of amazingly good food - both foreign and domestic - has resulted in some weight gain.

A Chinese woman with whom I spend a lot of time told her mother and maid that I like jaozi (dumplings). Last Thursday they surprised me - bowl after bowl of spring onion and egg jaozi. The dough was perfect, blended from wheat flour, egg and water, and the spring onion and egg filling melted in my mouth, teasing my tongue with the texture and the taste. I tried to stop after two bowls but I couldn't.

The maid was proud to continue bringing me more of the wonderful dumplings, happy to see how much I enjoyed them. My usual 'xie xie' (thank you) would not suffice to communicate proper gratitude for the special treat and the hours of work spent preparing it for me. "Zhege jaozi haochi, xie xie!" (These dumplings are delicious. Thank you!) The words and the tones fell out of my mouth like bricks but she understood and laughed, blushing and giggling at the praise.

Before coming to Beijing I was a little worried that as a vegetarian I might be limited to a regular diet of rice and noodles. Not at all. Instead, much of the time I feel like a goose being fatted for foie gras. A vegetarian goose.

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