I recently broke my Seattle-area dim sum boycott by going to Bellevue for the so-called “brunch” at Wild Ginger.
Why the dim sum boycott? Easy: dim sum in Seattle is mediocre, while just over two hours north in Richmond (just south of Vancouver), it’s simply amazing. As a result, I save my dim sum cravings for trips across the border.
That said, the dim sum at Wild Ginger wasn’t bad. You won’t find anything exotically authentic like chicken feet on the menu, and the standard-bearer har gow is a far cry from what you’ll find at Richmond’s Shiang Garden, but the overall quality was good and food that comes in baskets is usually fun. I ate most of the menu, including hum bow, har gow, shu mai, scallop and chive dumplings, five spice-scented beef dumplings, salt water dumplings (lightly fried, mochi style–very interesting), and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, which was perhaps the most daring dish for the group.
So what does Wild Ginger’s dim sum teach us about sex?
It’s all about how sharing improves your sex life.
Dumplings are a big part of dim sum, and at Wild Ginger, I got a glimpse of the dumpling-making process. Getting a basket of har gow, shu mai, or xiao long bao (at a Shanghainese dim sum place, if we only had one a good one) gives a real appreciation of the dumpling-making process, and watching an expert or trying to make dumplings yourself enhances that appreciation even more.
Dumplings and dumpling-making remind me of housework. Washing the vegetables is like washing the laundry. Arranging the Chinese equivalent of mise en place is all about the importance of being organized. Folding of dumpling wrappers represents the folding of laundry. Putting items in steel or bamboo baskets is like putting things away in the proper place of your home. And so on. You have to be organized. You have to be steadfast and disciplined. You have to be committed to the job.
The good news: Sharing the workload can lay the path to pleasure.
Pioneering sex educator Sol Gordon used to say, “Of the ten most important things in a human relationship, I would rank sexual fulfillment ninth, just ahead of sharing household tasks,” adding, “That’s not to say sex isn’t important; it’s still in the top ten of the 3,917 important things in a relationship.”
When one person carries the workload, he or she can get tired, lose interest, or get resentful and hold sex hostage. Recent studies show that people who share household tasks have better sex. Those tasks can be broadly defined–like handling the finances, tending to the garden, and walking the dog–and should then be negotiated.
Heck, cooking itself is one of those tasks, though it should be a fun one.
The sharing extends to eating. At dim sum, when the baskets arrive, you often have to discuss how you’ll share the dumplings inside. Or how you’ll divvy up that sticky rice. A dim sum brunch at Wild Ginger might reveal a lot about your sex life, and hopefully be full of fun, hot surprises.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on August 25, 2011.
Note: This meal, coincidentally, also broke my streak of ten years without entry into Wild Ginger. I went a few times when I first moved to Seattle, but then discovered Malay Satay Hut, which I then called “Wild Ginger at one-third the atmosphere, but one-third the price” for food I actually preferred. Wild Ginger’s food was certainly more refined, but Malay Satay’s food was bold and vibrant. (Note that Malay Satay Hut’s quality has since declined dramatically.) And while Wild Ginger has been a fixture in Urbanspoon’s list of top fine dining choices in Seattle, I agreed with the panelists I oversaw in editing the Fearless Critic Seattle Restaurant Guide who said that while the Seattle Wild Ginger location “is impressive in its design” with service that “is professional and efficient,” “the food feels as dated as its logo’s Orientalist font.” (See the book for further criticism, though on a positive note, we wrote that the wine list “is a work of profound beauty, elegance, and deep obsession…this is more than a wine list, it is a gift to the city.”)