Sunday, June 12, 2011

Domestic Drama of Dumplings

Like all Chinese festivals, Duanwu Festival 端午节 has a dish specially made just for the occasion. Sticky rice dumplings are traditionally eaten this time of year to commemorate the death of a famous poet ( patriotic? ) who was said to have drowned himself from grief. Supposedly the dumplings are meant to distract the hungry fishes from taking a bite from his corpse.

At least that's what they say.

Whether that's true or not, the tradition certainly lives on. For some reason though, every one of my relatives seems to have gotten on the dumpling bandwagon this year. Perhaps I missed an issue of the family newsletter talking about a competition but there's certainly no short supply of dumplings! Heck, even my newly married cousin made a small batch for all to try. Enough dumplings on the table to make up for the fact that the original master chef - my grandmother - has recently retired from the rank and file, obviously tired from wrapping all those endless pandan leaves around the glutinous rice.

Sitting idle isn't her style though. My grandmother always needs to have her greedy little hands in some sort of pie after all.

And there's nothing like a bit of familial gossip. For the past few months, the entire family has been keeping a secret from her. Their own version of 'She Can't Handle The Truth!' Apparently the startling news of my slacker uncle's rumoured infidelity would cause the tottering octogenarian to slip into a deathly swoon that could prove fatal. At least that's what I gather from the nervous whispers when my uncles and aunts get together.

Spinning a web of lies?

But let's be serious here. Revolution, famine and cancer failed to deter this woman - and they expect a teensy lil rumour to stagger her?

Foolishness. But I digress.

The wily old lady knows something's afoot - and she obviously knows who to ask for such clandestine information. Which is why I found her joining me for breakfast at my table while I finished my dumpling.

Grandma : Are you married yet?
Paul : Did you attend my wedding?
Grandma : I gather that's a no.
Paul : Mail order brides are hard to find these days.
Grandma : Hmmph. So have your seen you uncle lately?
Paul : I'm way across the Big Puddle. You've probably seen him more than me.
Grandma : Does he seem sad to you?
Paul : Does he seem sad to you?
Grandma : Does he?
Paul : What do you think?
Grandma : I think he does. Do you know why?
Paul : You know digging for information doesn't work on me.
Grandma : Hmmph.

It didn't take me all that long to turn the tables on her. Obviously I've learned some tricks of my own. Seems my grandmother has already known all along about my uncle's extramarital relations. Not shocked. Not saddened. Certainly no keeling over with clenched fist clutched painfully to the chest.

Nothing that dramatic. Just a matter-of-fact nod with a sigh. Which she punctuated with a bite of my dumpling.


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be bamboo leaves?

Jason said...

lol!...Ya, I think my mom used bamboo leaves :)

Ash Godiva said...

i love the nuts in the dumplings!

savante said...

Don't think I would know even if it was banana leaves, anon and jason :P

So do I, ash!

ooi2009 said...

i love to have them dumplings on me , btw , ur poster boy is so enticing , gives me a wicked fantasy of how u are , let me fantasize abt u ....hmmmm