Chinese Food: Traditional Foods for Chinese Festival Chelsea Yu 15th, Sep, 2012 First Draft of Chapter 2, 3 Pages IE924 Academic Writing ? China is famous for foods, especially which must be prepared for traditional festivals. These foods are made with traditional recipes and related to their meaning, ancient legend or historical story, which are passed along generation to generation. Among these traditional foods, “Nian-gao”, ”Yuebing”, and “Zongzi” are representative. “Nian-gao”, a kind of traditional food with its own recipe, is also called rice cake or New Year cake, which must be prepared for the Lunar New Year because of its meaning.
In the Spring Festival, people from different regions will cook rice cakes in different ways according to their customs. There are various kinds of famous rice cakes in different territories, such as: white rice cakes made of millet in the northern China, yellow rice cakes made of coarse rice in Saibei region, white New Year cakes made of rice in the regions south of the Yangtze River, and the sticky cakes made of sticky rice in the regions in the southwest China. Moreover, people also have different flavors of rice cakes.
People prefer steamed or fried rice cakes in the northern China, which are always sweet while residents in southern China still like stir-fried rice cakes and salty cakes in soup. In addition, the food “Nian-gao” has special meaning. The pronunciation of it in Chinese is similar to the Chinese blessing words that mean prosper for the next year. People believe that they will be better in the coming year after eating the New Year cakes. The second traditional food is “Yuebing”, which is well-known as the name “Mooncake” and the related legend.
It appeared in the Tang Dynasty as a sacrifice for the emperor at the Mid-Autumn Festival and changed to be popular traditional food. “Yuebing” is always classified by regions, flavors, fillings, and exteriors. The most common “mooncake” comes from Guangdong district and can be enjoyed in many cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing. The skin of this kind of “Mooncake” is made of wheat powder mixed with sugar, and oil. There are many different fillings decided by different people, like sweetened bean paste, lotus seed paste, egg yolk, or jam paste.
In addition, “mooncake” represents the meaning of reunion, the origin of which is about a Chinese legend: The goddess in the moon could only return to the earth to reunite with her husband when he had a “mooncake” on the specific day which was the Mid-Autumn festival. Nowadays, “Yuebing” has become more and more popular because of many new recipes. The third food is called “Zongzi” in mandarin and rice dumpling in English. It has always been attached to a Chinese historical story. “Zongzi” is a traditional food for the Dragon Boat Festival.
Compared to the two former foods, rice dumplings are much easier to make at home. At the festival, some people will have a competition for fun about making “Zongzi”, and the fastest one is the winner. Most of “Zongzi” are composed of glutinous rice and meat or egg folk, wrapped by bamboo leaves, and steamed finally. Additionally, there is a famous historical story about the origin of the food. In ancient China, there was a loyal minister who provided suggestions to the emperor to improve the country. However, the emperor not only did not take his suggestions, but also banished him.
With heavy pressure and disappointment, the minister whose name was QuYuan jumped to the river to commit suicide. Common people wanted to protect his body from fish by throwing rice dumplings to the river. After that, people started to eat rice dumplings in memory of him. Traditional foods like “Nian-gao”, ”Yuebing”, and “Zongzi” in Chinese festivals have undergone many changes in flavors or recipes, but for Chinese people, the traditional recipes and the meaning, legend, historical story will never be forgotten.