Monday, June 25, 2012

Mandarin Mondays;端午節 (Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival)

This weekend was the traditional Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié, 端午節) here in China. This festival varies year to year according to the traditional Chinese Lunisolar calander, but takes place around the summer solstice when the sun is at its strongest. During this festival people might watch dragon boat races, drink wine, and eat zòng zi (粽子).

This year I was invited to learn how to make zòng zi (粽子), the traditional food of this festival, with some friends. Zòng zi are a packet of extremely sticky rice wrapped in leaves. There are both sweet and savory varieties. We made a savory variety that is popular here in the south, that has meat and salty duck egg yolk inside it.

To make zòng zi (粽子) first you take some leaves (apparently many types of leaves are used) and lay them out, add seasoned rice and any fillings, and then fold and tie the leaves. These packets are then boiled for several hours and the rice becomes one solid glutinous mass. There are many stories about the origin of this festival and zòng zi (粽子). The most popular being that a famous Chinese poet drowned himself when enemies invaded and people threw zòng zi (粽子) into the river to keep the fish from eating his body.

Zòng zi (粽子) can be eaten hot or cold. Andrew is the most fond of this delicacy in our family. He kept asking for more.

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