The challenge of the Chinese dumplings

Chinese Dumplings

One of the principal features of the Chinese school is competition: no matters which grade you can get, the important thing is how is your grade compared to the others in your class; never mind how fast you can run, the important is to be the fastest in the school; never mind whether your class is clean or dirty, the important is that it’s considered cleaner than the others. Following this flow, the last idea of my school has been a cooking competition.

Chinese Dumplings
The competition…

So the big classroom of the international department for an afternoon became a big kitchen filled with flour fluttering everywhere. The mission of the six drawn people of each class was to prepare the 饺子 (jiaozi, Chinese dumplings) and a composition of fruit in forty minutes. The “result” will then be evaluated by the commission composed by students and teachers of the classes that weren’t competing.

Chinese DumplingsThe hands on the flour…

Every class had spent some time in the days before the great day in training and so every student was ready to compete. Everything was clear about how to cope in the fastest way and how to coordinate with the mates to have the best result despite the few space and time.

Chinese DumplingsThe hosts

As always the performance began with the presentation that is a typical feature of every event in which I took part since I’m here: two hosts, possibly of different sex, that recite a part trying to look formal.

Chinese DumplingsA dish of colorful jiaozi

After the formalities, the competition finally started, the chefs began to knead the flour and cut the fruits. Everyone was doing his duty, soon an assembly line developed and the first dumplings dove in the boiling water. On the other extremity of the table inanimate piece of colorful fruit were matched creating unexpected compositions, carefully studied during the preparation trainings the day before the competition.

Chinese DumplingsFruit composition

While their classmates were frantically working around their table the others, with no duty, were observing, giving advices and motivating their teams. There were people beating on judges’ decision, while others were contemplating which was the secret to satisfy the teachers’ palate.

Chinese DumplingsAnother fruit composition

Among all this confusion, all this voices and odors filling every space of the room, there was 李翀然 (Lichōngrán) that incessantly was getting around, taking pictures of everything (the pictures on this post have been taken by him).

Chinese DumplingsThe judges

After the forty minutes provided for the competition were expired every team had been able to finish his “masterpiece” and serve it. Everyone was proud of his work, you could read it on their face. Maybe because this was very likely the first time in which they were preparing a meal alone, without the always present Chinese mum.

The judges finally determined the winners, few critics for something, few compliments for something else: everything was clear. Despite this we’ve been all waiting for the official prize giving, so every participant went away holding his precious certificate, always good for the school curriculum. there’s always a second purpose in Chinese school…

Chinese DumplingsThe winners!

The competition ended in a last minute prolongation: in order to not waste the large amount of jiaozi produced by each team, every class picked a guy that took part in the speed race. The four selected guys gobbled their portion of dumplings in less than two minutes making all the audience laugh.

This time, the great Chinese competition that accompany Chinese guys for all their scholastic career has been transformed in a party that has made everyone happy… even the losers went home replete.


  1. says

    A good story in deed. I my experience the competition is serious, but mostly between the males. However there never is a single winner in things like this, there are (3) first place finishers, (5) second place and (7) third place. This does help to ensure that everyone’s parents has something to hang on the refrigerator at home.

    Will – I don’t see how ‘different’ is better.

  2. Furio Fu says

    Yup, I also loved this story.

    @ Will, I’m also curious to know why you think that “different” is better : )

    @ Harley. What you said about “there never is a single winner” is so true. In my opinion this comes down to the concept of Asian “face.” It’s like in a beauty context: in the West people and cameras would focus on the winner. This makes sense to us. But in Asia? No way, everybody would focus on the losers so they won’t lose face.

    What I really like about this story is how Marta was able to capture the essence of the Chinese scholar system, that is competition.

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