Yesterday evening, we had our first of four cooking classes--set up by the Stanford in Beijing program, probably because they realized we like to eat and will do anything related to food.
At 6 pm, Tracy, Christian and I walked to the home of a Chinese grandmother who lives near Beida. She spoke no English at all, but was extremely cute, and I think all three of us took an immediate liking to her. We walked up four flights of stairs to her apartment, and she showed us to her kitchen table. She'd already mixed out a little bowl of pork dumpling filling and a little bowl of dough. As she explained what ingredients went into each bowl, we learned out to stretch the dough, snap! it off in pieces, roll it, and wrap the dumplings. All three of us tried all the steps and very quickly learned that we were better at some things than others -- my snapped pieces were all too big or too small; Tracy's rolled dumpling skins looked like amoeba instead of circles; Christian's dumplings were floppy and didn't stand up like they were supposed to. But eventually we found our niches and got a nice little assembly line going, and proceed to pump out slightly deformed dumplings at a good rate.
Eventually we used up all the filling in our little bowl and brought them proudly to the kitchen to be cooked. Our grandmother looked at our misshapen creations and told us, while clearly attempting not to laugh, that they were "not bad." She also informed us that she had actually made some dumplings before we came so we wouldn't eat at 9 pm, and when we went into the kitchen, we found about 100 dumplings beautifully folded. It put our combined 25 dumplings between three people to shame, but we cooked beautiful and deformed dumplings all together, and they were delicious.
Then she fed us apples + pineapples for dessert, hawberry fruit skins for dessert #2, jasmine tea, and chocolate candies to top it off. She chattered while we were eating about how ginger should be added at the beginning of dish preparation since it took a long time for the flavor to be released, and onions should be added at the end, and hawberries are good for digestion, and computer games are addictive, and how she liked to do 24-form taichi.
She was so cute! Next Monday we will be back to make Beijing noodles. Looking forward to it :D