The first day of the Chinese New Year begins at 7:00 am when, as usual, explosions welcome the Year of the Dog and say goodbye to the old one. All day long will be one deflagration after the other. I bet they did not like the 2017.
Last night’s late hours would require a few more hours of sleep but we all have the duty to prepare dumplings (Jiaozi 饺子) for lunch so we head to Omeida. The word dumpling is rather vague in Chinese cuisine as it refers to any type of dough that wrap some kind of content. It can be made of bread, flour, eggs or potatoes and can contain meat, vegetables, tubers, fruit or fish.
There are several ways in which you can wrap one up and give it its shape, as well as there are several ways in which you can cook it whether with water or oil, by braising, baking, boiling, steaming or frying. Nothing is as versatile as a dumpling.
As we’ve been told the day earlier, their braided skin symbolizes the old and the new year that meet while their form recalls that of the ancient gold ingots common during the Qing and Ming dynasties (yuánbǎo元宝), which is why they bring luck.
To make them, however, you need a certain amount of dexterity and we are too many in the kitchen. So we decide to take a tour in the neighborhood around school to see how the inhabitants celebrate the end of the year.
The streets are a red carpet of empty cartridges and the neighborhood holds lion dances (wǔ shī 舞狮) performed by dancers wearing lion costumes to get rid of the misfortunes of the previous year . We can’t see where they are but we can easily reach them by following the drums and explosions.
This dance is what remains of the myth of Nian (年兽), the terrible monster that every 12 months leaves his cave to eat people, and the dancers perform it in front of shops and restaurants and then run away followed by the outbreak of firecrackers.
We follow them for a while, take pictures, but then our stomachs call and we head back to school for lunch. There are hundreds of dumplings with different fillings but it will not be easy to have a taste of them all as there are also about twenty Chinese starving children.
We eat some but these kids are agile, smart and they know how to use chopsticks!