The first Jiaozi

The first Jiaozi I ate tried to kill me. It happened in China as I’d sought refuge from the stiffening effect of winter, in a restaurant warmed by the steam used as their sole cooking method. The menu was equally limited; Baozi or Jiaozi. I generally defaulted to baozi, but the elegant shape of the Jiaozi, like an gentlemans shirt collar, were intriguing enough to earn a try. The school-age kitchen hand, probably one of the proprietors children, deftly folded a thin yellow skin around the thumb tip sized ball of minced meat and vegetable and laid each in rows on a tray like cars in a parking lot. I ordered and she gathered a dozen from the previously made and tossed them under the lid of a immense boiling pot. 

After they had been pulled from the water their former distinction had become wrinkled and muculent the way the bottom of a snail looks under magnification, and similarly unappetising. I should have taken that as a warning but hunger and a reluctance to move out of the almost tropical micro-climate of the restaurant compelled me to stay and eat. The experience left no great impression but the adamant bacteria that persuaded my body to unravel every component of my digestive system from the inside out over the following two days did.

That incident was several years ago. It seems those Jiaozi inflict enough damage to induce a grudge as these days I make them occasionally, still charmed by their graceful shape and assured that my ones wont try to finish me off.


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