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National Bao Day

Today we eat bao, which are filled dumplings that are also known a bāozi or "steamed buns." Round, soft, and smooth, they can be savory—being filled with meats or vegetables—or can be spicy or sweet. There are many types, but they are most commonly filled with a pork mixture. They are eaten any time of the day, although they are most popular during breakfast.

Traditionally made by being steamed in bamboo baskets, there are two main sizes of bao: Dàbāo and Xiǎobāo. Dàbāo, meaning "big bun," are about 10 centimeters in diameter; they are served individually and are usually sold for take-out. Xiǎobāo, meaning "small bun," are about 5 centimeters in diameter; they are usually eaten at restaurants, and between three and ten of them are served in a steamer. A ceramic dish with vinegar or soy sauce usually accompanies them. Chile and garlic pastes, oils, infusions, sesame oil, coriander, and leeks are also often eaten with them.

Bao originated in China and are still very popular there, especially in Chengdu. They are common in many countries throughout Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Legend tells of them being invented in the third century CE by a Chinese military strategist named Zhuge Liang. He is also said to have invented another similar Chinese food, mantou, which is a steamed bun that doesn't have fillings. Mantou was also the original name for bao.

In recent years, bao have been gaining popularity in the United States. National Bao Day was founded by Wow Bao in order to celebrate bao and make people aware of the many bao restaurants opening throughout the country. They chose August 22 because their first restaurant dedicated to bao was opened in Chicago on the date.

How to Observe National Bao Day

Celebrate the day by eating bao! You could make some at home or get some from a restaurant. Eating some at a Wow Bao might make the most sense since they created the day. You could also eat some at an authentic Chinese or Southeast Asian restaurant.

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