What Do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do With Global Warming?

‘In Sichuan, we’re eaters,” said Chen Zemin, the world’s first and only frozen-dumpling billionaire. 

“We have an expression that goes, ‘Even if you have a very poor life, you still have your teeth to please.’ ” He smiled and patted his not insubstantial belly. “I like to eat.”

Chen, who is 72, never planned on being a dumpling mogul. Like almost everyone who came of age during the Cultural Revolution, he didn’t get to choose his profession. He was a “gadget guy” during his high-school years. “I liked building circuits and crystal radios and that sort of thing,” he told me. “I applied to university to study semiconductor electronics.” But the state decided that Chen should become a surgeon, and so he dutifully completed his studies and amused himself in his free time by learning how to cook: He made Sichuan pickles, kung pao chicken and, of course, dumplings. Even after he became vice president of the Second People’s Hospital in Zhengzhou, a provincial city about halfway between Shanghai and Beijing, Chen remained bored with his day job. “I didn’t have enough to keep me busy,” he said, blinking earnestly, hands steepled beneath his chin. “I would wander round inspecting the building, and I had meetings, but I felt as if I spent most of my time reading the newspaper and drinking tea.” He engaged in lots of Rube Goldberg-like tinkering: jury-rigging the hospital’s aging equipment, fixing his neighbors’ radios and even building Zhengzhou’s first washing machine. And he cooked. For decades, his lunar New Year gifts of homemade glutinous rice balls were legendary among friends and neighbors.

Read full text in The New York Times