Although it is widely accepted that the origin of pasta comes from famous Italy, there are indications that it actually originated in China, where the oldest noodle in the world was discovered in Lajia (Qijia culture) along the Yellow River in Qinghai.
According to the research, it dates back 4,000 years and was made from millet. Ancient writings indicate that this dish might date from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220). But it seems that this is not the only incursion of the Chinese into the controversial origins of the delicious staple of Italy. Apparently, Marco Polo not only introduced gunpowder to Europe, but also introduced the famous Chinese ravioli called Jiaozi, and the Italian version we all know would be just an adaptation.
Another fact suggests that it might come from the Tang Dynasty. The finding of funeral objects in a tomb of the Tang Dynasty in Tulufan District, Xinjiang, unearthed a wooden bowl with several ravioli identical to the current ones.
The shape of this Chinese dish dates from the Han Dynasty. Apparently, at that time the shape of the ravioli emerged from an ancient philosophical word: Hundun. The Chinese character of this word is written with a radical of ‘water’ and means “primordial chaos,” so it is said, “It has no fixed shape and there are no gaps in its envelope.” Thus, this traditional dish is made of a thin dough of wheat flour that perfectly envelops the filling. This tradition of soup was lost in the middle of the sixth century. This is how the exquisite Chinese ravioli was born.
So how did the name Jiaozi come about? This is even more mysterious and ancient since we have to revisit the ancient history of this dish. The term used in culinary circles, apparently, comes from the Ming Dynasty, when preparing the delicious ravioli was to celebrate the Spring Festival as it was starting to become popular. In addition, on New Year’s Eve of the Chinese lunar calendar, all family members gathered, and when midnight came, they ate the delicious ravioli and other specialties. And this is where the name Jiaozi comes from since this means “the new year comes at zero hours.”
Today in China, this dish is not only eaten on holidays, but it has become a very popular and varied meal. According to Chinese culinary customs, the ravioli have many different fillings. In the filling, all kinds of meats, vegetables, and even fruits are used, offering very different flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy, and even sour. As for cooking, there are two main schools: steamed, typical of southern China, more specifically in the province of Canton (very famous for its shrimp ravioli); and boiled in water, more common in northern China.
Now, when preparing delicious ravioli, we can appreciate the rich history behind it. Do not forget that this dish is very significant and that is why it has the honor of being prepared for important festivities in ancient Chinese culture, such as the Spring Festival, and especially for the eve of the Chinese New Year.