shanghai dumplings

i went out for dinner last night with my cousin kate. she was born here, her father is my eldest uncle, her mother anglo-australian. of all my family, kate’s the only one i get along with. the only one whose company i can enjoy in an undiluted guilt free and comfortable way.

anyway, we dont catchup that often and it’s usually around food. last night we had dinner at a shanghai noodle and dumpling shop on High Street in Preston. strange how many of them have been popping up in Melbourne in the last ten years. Being around the corner, i’ve been there enough times that the owner recognises me. I generally order way too many dumplings and somehow fit them in. it could be because i’m shanghainese. or rather my paternal grandparents were from shanghai. not that i speak any of the lingo.

Kate had organised the dinner for another reason as well. she hoped to persuade me to visit our grandmother with her. it would involve a trip to KL, Malaysia. i wasnt terribly keen to start with. I’m generally never keen to go back to KL. It’s to do with the time away from work, the expense and the fact that i could be spending all of that time and money travelling to someplace new.

i actually have fond memories of making dumplings with my grandmother. it was always a special occassion sitting around the table pushing bits of pork and egg into floury wonton wrappers. i could never do it as quickly as she could. gran would grab a wrapper with one hand, with chopsticks in the other hand dump a small portion of wonton mix into the middle, lightly touch some egg on the sides and then scrunch the whole thing up into a wonton. In the meantime, I’d be putting too mcuh mix in the skin and then attempting to fold elaborate triangles or cubes which always broke into gluggy parcels when dropped in the boiling water to cook.

i was thinking about this when kate ordered dumplings. so when she mentioned that gran had been feeling quite ill. she’s hitting ninety now. i found myself agreeing to go with kate in August. she was a little surprised at how easily i caved in.

“it’s all about guilt.” i said glumly.

“it’s not just going to be a big family duty chore.” she replied, “we can have fun too.”


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