Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tuan Wu Festival

Tuan Wu Festival is just around the corner. Tuan Wu, or more popularly known as the Dragon Boat Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. That's June 11th, this coming Saturday.

And what's chinese festival without food!! Zong Zi, or Cang (Bak Cang in Hokkien, Cong in Cantonese) as it is called in Malaysia, are eaten on this day (as well as a few days before and after).It's actually glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves, with a combination of eggs, beans, dates, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat as fillings. However, certain shops or stalls (pasar malam) do sell this delicacy all year round.

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There's a lot of version of the legend behind Tuan Wu festival. One says that during the Zhou Dynasty, Qu Yuan, the poet, was actually murdered by government officials, by pushing him down a river. Another tells the story of how Qu Yuan was drowned in Milo (Milo River lar..hehehe). But what I do know is Qu Yuan was sad when his state (Zhou Kingdom) was captured by the enemies, and decided to 'jump river'. Commit suicide lar.

As he was a famous poet, loved by common people, the fishermen rushed out to the river, in their long boats, tried to rescue him. The villagers made rice dumplings and throwed it to the river, hoping that the fishes will eat the rice dumplings instead of Qu Yuan's body.

As time went by, people started to celebrate Tuan Wu festival to commemorate Qu Yuan. Now, we have dragon boat races, mimicking the long boats rushing out to save Qu Yuan. And Zong-zi, instead of ending up at the bottom of the river, ends up at the bottom of our stomach.

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Mami loves Zong-zi, especially the nyonya version (pic above). So last week, I ordered a few from a nyonya specialist around my neighbourhood. Nyonya Chang has a salty glutinous rice layer, but a slightly sweet fillings of meat, beans and herbs. And it's delicious! I like it too, but it makes my stomach bloated.