The Chinese Dumpling Gang

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Having just returned from a Chinese New Year party in my child's Chinese classroom, I now know three things I didn't know before:

1. Today is Day 5 of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration.

2. You are supposed to eat jiao zi (dumplings) at midnight as the New Year dawns, for good luck.

3. Jiao zi are the same thing as gyoza, having spread from China to Japan.

A mother in the classroom made jiao zi for the class. Her homemade dumplings filled with pork were splendid, with a soft but toothsome texture and crisp brown edges from pan-frying. I contributed a bag of fortune cookies from Publix, which the kindergartners, at least, found impressive.

As a devout black-eyed pea eater every Jan. 1, I was distraught to learn that I had skipped the critical jiao zi at the recent dawning of the Year of the Ox. This is not the year to take luck lightly. Fortunately, however, I remembered that on Tuesday the little Foxes and I knocked back a bag of excellent and deliciously affordable gyoza from the freezer section at Trader Joe's, so maybe we're covered?

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