Fifth Day (Po Woo): The fifth day is the day to eat Jiaozi or dumplings – a traditional Chinese food – which they believe will bring wealth and prosperity. On this day, people will not visit relatives and friends as it is believed the act will invoke bad luck.

Dumplings to the Chinese are Ravioli’s to the Italian. These similar dishes are one of the oldest and most loved foods of the respective societies. Many believe they were once shared; discovered by Marco Polo in China and carried back and introduced to the Italians.

That said, all the research I have done both in the library and online state that both countries (and other countries) had discovered on their own the noodle, aka, the Jiaozi or Ravioli. Whatever the truth in 2012 remains is as was and now as is…. people love sharing and eating these foods. It is as important on Christmas for an Italian family (like mine) to make it  at home and to share it as it just as if it is for the Chinese.  It is a food to sit at a round table and dig into together.

Because I am Italian by heritage (my family immigrated to the USA in the early 1900’s), and because the ravioli was my Nonna Rusconi’s most famous and loved dish, I have a particular fondness for the Chinese Dumpling. It is the Chinese food I find the most similar to my family cuisine.  It is my child hood food. It is familiar.

Chef’s and cooks alike, used to travel to Nonna for lessons on how to make her perfectly thin noodle and incredibly delicious lamb filling… no one in the world made ravioli’s like my Nonna. My friends and family talk of her still today and dream of a plate of her delicacy.

From San Francisco’s North Beach and China Town, to Jinan China (where the dumpling is probably the best I have ever tasted) to Hong Kong, whether it be sharing ravioli’s or sharing Jiaozi means lots of talking  and lots of eating. Whether it’s with Italians or Chinese, the challenge is to see how many dumplings can be eaten in one sitting. My Nonna used to deliver plates of ravioli’s to the table, a never ending flow of her delicious noodle, just as the chef in Chinese restaurants bring  10, 20, 30 dumplings on oval plates to the table in continuous movement as one dish finishes the next arrives.  The question is ‘How many can you eat????’

And, in Hong Kong during the course of my life, I have eaten dumplings in small village homes and in the largest of dim sum restaurants, always with pleasure.  The similarity of cultures has meant to me, that on my returns from field assignments as an aid worker, whether I land in San Francisco or in Hong Kong, the first meal I choose is to have is my Nonna’s  lamb ravioli’s or a big dish of Chinese dumplings. This is my comfort food. This food brings a smile to my face. This food showcases how much more similar people of different nationalities are than are different. It signals the wealth of living and prosperity. And, for these reasons the food is probably the most simple yet most pleasurable of any that I personally have ever eaten.

Whether you are in San Francisco, Jinan or Hong Kong (or any other Chinese or Italian community) you will find dumplings….

So why not explore and try. Who knows, maybe you are the next Marco Polo.








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