On our last day in Xi’an, we were invited to a dumpling banquet at a historic dumpling house in the Old City. Madame Wang explained that when we first arrived, we were served noodles. This is traditional because when guests arrived in ancient times, hosts could quickly prepare a meal of noodles for them. During the visit, the tedious process of making dumplings would ensue…and so, for our final meal in Xi’an, we were treated to this delicious tradition.
|Near the entrance of the restaurant, plates of dumplings display only a fraction of all the items actually available.|
Amid the toasts, speeches, and laughter, I think everyone felt a certain sadness that this day had come…from the time we nervously feasted at the hot pot meal (some of us…like me…still struggling with chopsticks!) to this relaxed banquet of dumplings (I was quite pleased with my chopsticks skills by then!)…we had grown quite accustomed to each other. The language barriers were dissolving, the weather had warmed nicely from the bone-chilling March temperatures, and we truly felt we were among friends.
The dumplings marched onto the lazy susan in varieties I can’t begin to describe. There were steamed dumplings, boiled dumplings, fried dumplings, baby dumplings…each batch uniquely shaped to resemble the fillings—shrimp, vegetables, pork, lamb, beef, chicken… We ate our fill…and then some!