After 2 years’ life in America, I notice that dumplings could be listed as one of the most popular Chinese foods around America. Because most of the people will mention it when they talk about Chinese food. I still remembered my first semester at Purdue. I was surprised that they served dumplings at some of the dinning courts. And the dumplings were always hard to get because once they came up, people will take all of them in ten minutes during the meal time.
But have you ever thought about how does dumpling come to this world? You may think it is just a kind of food that people create long time ago. However, this explanation may match with lots of other foods, but not for dumplings.
Dumplings have an extremely long history in Chinese culture. It was created by a famous doctor called Zhongjing Zhang in Eastern Han Dynasty (around 1,800 years ago). What does it mean that dumpling was created by a doctor? You may guess the answer – dumpling was not a kind of food at all when it was first created, but was a kind of medicine.
Dumpling formerly known as “Jiao Er” (娇耳) at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. According to the ancient records, lots of states were in wars at that time period. People were suffering from disease and hard to live because of poverty. Zhang was not only famous about his medical skills, but also well know about his equal treatment of the poor and the rich.
One year when he ended his official term and went back to his hometown, he saw lots of poor people suffered from hunger, and many of them even got frostbite on ears. Zhang decided to save his folks’ life and release their painfulness. So he asked his disciples to set up two big pots near the city gate. One pot was used to cook mutton, chili, and some medicine could cure cold and frostbite with water. After the foods were well cooked, he asked his disciples to take out the ingredients, wrap them with thin doughs, and then boil them in another pot. Each person who came for food and medicine would get two dumplings and a bowl of hot soup for free. Patients’ body and ears became warm after they had the dumplings and hot soup. The frostbite was soon cured.
Within nearly two thousand years after the Eastern Han Dynasty ended, the shape of dumplings has changed, and it has gradually become a real food but not medicine anymore. Chinese will eat it during winter solstice and lunar New Year. One explanation is that Zhang gave dumplings to the folks from the end of December till the new year day.