After waiting almost two weeks to receive my passport with a renewed residence permit, I’m free to live in China for another year, and my long-awaited journey across China has finally begun. First stop, Zibo, for some delicious homemade jiaozi.
The first stop of my cross-country trip is in Zibo, a small city in the Shandong Province of China. This is the hometown of my girlfriend, Su Xiao Tong (Suzy), and her family was gracious enough to invite me to join them in preparing homemade jiaozi (steamed Chinese dumplings). I’ve never been one to pass up a free meal, especially one comprised of jiaozi, one of my favorite traditional Chinese foods.
Watching Suzy’s mother and aunt prepare this signature Chinese dish was like watching a choreographed performance. I saw their swift hands mold pristine dumplings at a rate of 4 JPM (jiaozi per minute), which would probably be a world record if such a thing existed.
After watching these girls roll and stuff jiaozi, I was feeling confident and decided to try it for myself. But I learned soon that, like most things, it’s harder than it looks. Although I tried my best, all the jiaozi I rolled ended up looking like ugly blobs of dough unfit for consumption, but of course, my gracious hosts ate them anyway.
Once the jiaozi had been rolled and stuffed, it needed to be steamed, which meant we had a bit of time to kill until dinner. In China, there’s no better way to pass the time than to drink freshly brewed tea.
Once we had our fill of tea and the jiaozi was freshly steamed, we enjoyed the spoils of our labor. Among the dishes served was fried octopus tentacles, mackerel, stir-fried vegetables with chicken, and of course, all the homemade jiaozi you could eat.
It was great spending time with Suzy and her family here in Zibo, but now it’s time to hit the road. This was just the first stop of my journey across China, and I think it’s safe to say that it was a success. Next I’m heading west to Xi’an, the capital city of the Shaanxi Province, where I’ve already arranged a free bed. More videos coming soon, so don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel.