My husband is a ninja.
He’s been studying kung fu for almost 15 years and he is truly dedicated. It turns out that two world-renowned teachers, both of whom have studied with one of the best masters in China, run a gym in Cambridge.
When our relationship got serious, it was obvious that I would have to give the martial art a try. I am a yogini, a sometimes runner (treadmill only, please), and an occasional meditator. Kung fu wasn’t at the top of my list.
My husband suggested one month of tai chi and I figured it was worth a try. How hard could it be? I had images of elderly people slowly moving through random motions in the middle of a desolate park. Well, let me tell you….tai chi is NOT EASY. It involves a lot of strength and concentration. Nine months later, I’m still enrolled. I find the practice very invigorating both physically and mentally.
Besides regular practice, food is a big part of this community. Most people stay quiet during practice (except for me, of course) and dim sum in Chinatown is a setting where people feel free to chat and catch-up. Still I have to be honest: my favorite food discovered during this foray into the kung-fu world is a round pastry called baozi, known more frequently as bao. There are many types of bao, both savory and sweet. One of the Sifus (teachers) knows about my secret obsession and will often pick up an extra bun for me when he visits bakeries in Chinatown.
The relatively firm circular pastry is filled with a sweet paste (taro is my favorite). A flaky exterior covers the firmer dough surrounding the taro filling; the dough’s salty undertones only add to the fantastic flavorful explosion. It’s a journey to get to the middle and never have I so enjoyed the process. Taro paste itself is quite sweet but nothing overdone.
There are some excellent bakeries in Chinatown including Bao Bao Bakery and Cafe. Be forewarned: you don’t go to this place for the ambiance; it might be best to get some buns to go. Then walk to nearby Boston Common and find a nice bench, pair your fresh bao with some hot green tea and poof…. you are set.