- The Human Geographical Society of Japan
- 人文地理 (ISSN:00187216)
- vol.57, no.4, pp.396-413, 2005-08-28 (Released:2009-04-28)
Every traditional society has its own particular regional food culture. The dumplings examined in this article are one example. In northern China, the dumpling has played an important role in food culture, not only materially but also spiritually. Dumplings even have meaning as ceremonial foods, and they form one of the chief elements of traditional food culture. Due to the liberal reform policies carried out in the 1980s, the Chinese economy has developed remarkably, and daily life, especially the food culture of the Chinese people, has changed radically. The aim of this paper is to examine the changing nature of the traditional food culture by focusing on the dumpling, and also to examine the changing meaning and function of the dumpling itself.The region discussed in this paper is Shandong in the lower Yellow River valley. The present state of dumpling food culture was investigated in seven districts within this region. In each district I distributed questionnaires, interviewed local people, and consulted historical records concerning food culture.The Shandong region is the birthplace of the dumpling and we can trace the historical development of it by using local documents. People consume dumplings in various settings, not only in daily life, but on formal occasions as well. The latter category includes annual celebrations and ceremonial events such as weddings, funerals, ancestor-worship rituals, and coming-of-age ceremonies. People still recognize dumplings as a vital dish. Moreover, on formal occasions, the opportunity for consumption, the reason for consumption, the place of consumption, and the group preparing the dumplings differs from place to place. Thus, the dumpling in Shandong is a daily food staple made out of wheat, and, at the same time, is a part of the local food culture that is valued socially and ritually.Since every local area has its own natural environment and historical and social background, types of dumplings differ by locality. However, people's respect for the dumpling is universal. By observing variations in the form of dumplings and by interviewing cooks, it becomes clear that knowledge about dumplings-their different types, forms, and functions-is a sort of folk wisdom that has spread widely.