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A Tangible Challenge: Chinese Dumplings

This blog post is part of a new series called “A Tangible Challenge” where each month I take one in-person class related to something I know nothing about. The goal is to step outside my comfort zone and create something new. I am so excited to share this month’s endeavor: Chinese dumplings. (Read January’s adventure in pottery; February’s adventure in plants; or March’s adventure in mosaic art lamps here.)

It was a case of wanting to see my friend more than anything else. 

We hadn’t gotten together in a few months so when I started brainstorming April classes for my intentional monthly learning excursion, I immediately sent her a list of events that had caught my eye. She replied that the Chinese Dumpling one was the most interesting to her and with that I was sold.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday, the day of the class. I had arrived a few minutes early and decided to wait outside the venue and watch for her. I got the “here!” text before I saw her. Because, that is, I wouldn’t be seeing her. Despite using the same link and booking through the same platform, we’d been assigned to different locations—about a half mile across midtown. As the clock edged past the 6:30 start time, it was a matter of bail or attend alone. The chef apologized for the mix-up and then told me class was about to begin. So I sat. 

At my table were two friends—K & B—and a solo woman, D. I introduced myself and apologized for my frenzied appearance and being the cause of class delay. So this would be my first solo class. I imagined it would happen at some point this year and it was a fact I was more than comfortable with. 

I highly value my independence… but as I’d taken three classes thus far, I was tickled by how exciting they were to do with friends. I was grateful for the opportunity to have a unique catch-up with people in my life and the experience of being able to say “we did this together.” Nevertheless, I’m kind of grateful I got to experience the solo class unexpectedly. My expectation of catching up with an old friend was immediately replaced by my extroverted energy saying “time for new friends.”

And so K, B, D, and I got to chatting. We talked about New York City and our own cooking and baking experience. D was gracious enough to do the vegan tofu option for her dumplings with me instead of the chicken option (“I’m flexitarian!”). We talked about what shows we’re watching and our current library reads.

Oh, and we made dumplings. I learned tricks for peeling ginger and mincing garlic. I learned three different ways to fold the dumplings and I felt memories of making pierogies with my father rush to my head. 

So perhaps this class wasn’t the most “out of my comfort zone” in the fact that I love to bake and my dad loves to cook. Or in the fact that pierogies are a classic father/daughter meal. But it was a surprise challenge in the sense of walking into a room solo and leaving with a full belly and some new friends.

We sat together, dipping our dumplings in our homemade sauce and talking about the warming New York City weather. And as I prepared to head out to the subway, I slipped one dumpling in a zip baggie to take home for my partner, a strange but sincere way to share the experience with someone I love.


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