This is from October, just a couple weeks after I arrived at the good old Nanshan Bilingual School. Every couple of weeks on Mondays, all the English teachers get together in the English office and talk about something. Sharing cultures, traveling in China, shopping, dating—things like that. These photos are from the time we made dumplings instead of having a conversation. So after school, all the teachers came over to Jennifer’s apartment with ingredients and equipment. I bought a couple bottles of wine which no one really drank except Jennifer and me. The whole thing was a lot of fun and more relaxed than being in the office, but it was also not a dinner party, which I thought was sort of interesting. Everyone got right to work chopping and frying and mixing, and then we stuffed the dumplings and cooked and ate them quickly. Brisk. Meanwhile the two little kids tore up the place.
First, chopping. A lot of chopping. A lot of it took place on the floor.
Wang Xiaoyan (Amalie) watches as Zhang Shaoyan (Sabrina) chops cabbage with a cleaver. I can sometimes here my neighbors upstairs chopping stuff with a cleaver (either that or they’re running horses around their apartment). The cutting board is sitting on Jennifer’s washing machine.
Zhang Yuanyuan (Vivian), chopping the cabbage basically to mush.
Feng Yan (Crystal) and her son.
L to R: Qu Meiye (Tina), Jennifer, and Yu Xiaojie (Susan) on cleaver duty.
Yu Qiuyan (Betty) mixing the pork filling. I never really got a clear idea of all the ingredients—some egg, some pork, chopped cabbage, something like scallion that wasn’t scallion, some other things.
L to R: Luan Qing Fang (Grace), Wang Xiaoyan (Amalie), and Feng Yan (Crystal) putting on plastic gloves for the dumpling-stuffing portion. The gloves turned out to be useless, plus not very traditional.
Dumpling stuffing. Like a good American, I made mine too big and some of them exploded in the boiling water.
Luan Qing Fang (Grace)
There was a certain intensity to the process, a certain proper way to hold the dough and press it together to seal.
Qu Meiye (Tina) chopping garlic for dipping sauce.
L to R: Yu Qiuyan (Betty), Zhang Yuanyuan (Vivian), Zhang Shaoyan (Sabrina), and Wang Hongbo (Alice). Dressed as New Yorkers only by coincidence.
L to R: Wang Shaoyan (Amalie), Qu Meiye (Tina), and Zhang Yuanyuan (Vivian). After all the chopping and stuffing and cooking, we ate everything in about ten minutes, standing up in the kitchen. Then a whirlwind of cleaning and then they were gone.
Yu Xiaojie’s daughter and Feng Yan’s son.