Bao in Boston

Photo: SauceSupreme/flickr

Photo: SauceSupreme/flickr

My husband is a ninja.

No, seriously.

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.

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Associate Producer, Here & Now Most recently, Jessica worked as an associate producer at WBUR's daily local program, Radio Boston. Jessica moved to Boston in 2008 and has lived many places since leaving her native Texas. After graduating from college, Jessica worked as a federal employee, documentary film festival producer, oral historian, university teaching assistant, traveling saleswoman and klezmer musician. Her work and projects have appeared in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Bust, Barnard Magazine, National Public Radio, Public Radio International (PRI), and the BBC. Jessica's freelance radio work has received various awards including accolades from the Religion Newswriters Association and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. As a Fulbright Scholar in El Salvador, Jessica collected and studied oral histories from the Jewish Community based in San Salvador. Jessica received her B.A. in political science from Columbia University’s Barnard College and her M.A. in history from Indiana University. She learned how to make radio from the phenomenal folks at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Jessica lives in Somerville with her husband, twin son and daughter, and two cats. To learn more about Jessica’s projects, both current and past, please visit