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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Singer

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice, called 冬至 in Chinese. It is not a time of widespread celebration or custom in America. This is not the case in China. Food plays such an essential role throughout Chinese culture and holds a special place at Winter Solstice as well.

In the north of China, dumplings are eaten to commemorate Zhang Zhongjing, a famous doctor from the late Eastern Han Dynasty 1,800 years ago. He is credited with creating dumpling soup -- quhan jiao er tang, 祛寒娇耳汤. Seeing the poor who were huddled outside ailing and freezing, particularly their ears, he combined chopped lamb, chili, and herbs wrapped in "ears of dough" that were then boiled and handed out with broth in order to dispel the cold, warm the ears, heal the body, and feed the poor.

In the south of China, the people eat glutinous rice balls, called 汤圆 in Chinese. These tangyuan are symbols of family togetherness and are often served with broth. They come in various varieties, but usually with ingredients that are credited with helping improve health, circulation, and body.


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