Saturday, December 26, 2009

coming full dumpling

First off, happy Christmas "to you and yours" (this little phrase is so strange and apart from this entry, I will never use it)! This was an interesting holiday as I remembered how wholly different it was from last year (we topped off our celebration with Christmas day all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. Oh yeah!). It came and went very quietly this year but not without ponderings on the subject of our celebrations: a poor unwed teenage girl giving birth in a stanky barn to a baby who would one day grow up to love and save and change the world for good. God's love, revealed to us.

The parallels between this life and my East Asia life continue to be striking. I had a poignant Christmas Eve day as mom and I prepped potstickers for dinner, a tradition now several years running. (Just a year ago, we were eating dumplings at our neighbor's place for winter solstice, a tradition in the north.) Mom commented that while I still made a messy job of it, my potsticker stuffing speed has gotten a lot faster, which I had to attribute to the mothers and grandmothers of East Asia.

Making dumplings (potstickers being a subset) is like a national pastime for the women of East Asia. It is super labor intensive, but somehow, all know how to make them impeccably. You would think that constructing them would be fairly simple, but spoon, pleat, pleat, twist is surprisingly difficult. I will not claim that I ever got the hang of it, but I did manage to eat a whole lot of them while I was there. What were you expecting? This blog is aptly named. (sidenote: It is my dearest hope that every foreigner in Asia has at least one opportunity to try to make dumplings at some grandmother's house, subsequently get laughed out of the kitchen due to awful foreigner dumpling folding skills, and then proceed to get stuffed with said dumplings for dinner. I can eat 50 in one sitting!)

Some throwback photos from the spring at my friend's grand-uncle & aunt's place...yes, dumplings.

You can tell some of these were made by me..the ones with green filling sticking out the top.

Grand-aunt's hands, rolling out dumpling dough and going a million miles a minute! 

As I connect all the dots in my head, I realize that I can't ever fully escape East Asia because it lives on in photos, in this blog, in my memories, and very importantly, through food. With our Christmas Eve potsticker tradition, it seems like I have come full circle (or dumpling, if you're feeling punny), and I look forward to the next one, where I will undoubtedly pick up new questions and answers, insights, lessons, and (hopefully!) more hope.

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