Ah jiaozi… on the last day of our visit to Shan’s family in Urumqi the capital of Xinjiang Province, we listened, as Shan translated for her mother. She explained that it is traditional to serve these dumplings to family members before they depart from home, to remind them that family wraps itself around you even when you are far away.
That good lady is on my mind today as she has just journeyed thousands of miles from her home in Urumqi to be with Shane and Shan in Beijing until the birth of her (our) grandchild, fulfilling the Chinese tradition of ensuring the expectant mother is well-nourished during her pregnancy. It is an abiding part of family values in China that mothers give up their own lifestyle and their own friendships to be with their daughter at this time.
Not only did Shan’s mother serve us dumplings, she showed us how to make them and the making was also a family affair, rooted in age old traditions. Even Shan’s niece, little Xuan Xuan aged 5, was already learning how to prepare them from her mother and grandmother – her “nai nai“.
So this post is a small tribute to Shan’s Mum whose life experience is a world away from my own but with whom I have a share in a new life carrying both our genes. I hope she will be pleased that she has already taught me how to use some of her skills, on the other side of the world, before I become a nai nai myself.
Continue reading Pot-sticker dumplings