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Festival Food: Rice Glue Ball, Zongzi and Moon Cake

http://www.chinese.cn 09:34, February 20, 2010 CRI Online

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The rice glue balls
The rice glue balls

Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid Autumn Festival are the three important festivals in China. People eat different food on these festivals. They are rice glue ball, zongzi and moon cake.

The Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. People eat different food. The rice glue balls, which are eaten on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, or the Lantern Festival, are the last items for the spring festival. On the lantern festival, it is said that every household eats glutinous rice dumplings. People in the north and south call it differently and make it in different ways.

In north, people make it by roll. The fillings are made with grounded sesame, peanuts or bean paste, mixed with sugar. The fillings are then dipped with water and rolled in the glutinous rice flour until it is big enough. Most people are busy now. So they normally buy it instead of making it themselves. Street hawkers make it. But the rice glue balls sold by some famous long-standing stores, are warmly welcome.

Comparatively, people in the south would like to make it by themselves. They first mix glutinous rice flour with water. Then they make the fillings with grounded chestnut, peanut, sesame, jujube paste or bean paste. Then they start to make it. In south China, the rice glue balls made by Ningbo in east China and the Lai Tang Yuan made in Chengdu in southwest, are very famous.

The rice glue balls, cooked by boiling, tastes sweet and soft. People who like sweetness would find it delicious. People eat glutinous rice dumplings as a wish for reunion.

The glutinous rice dumplings, or zongzi, are eaten on the Dragon Boat Festival, or the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. People in different regions use different materials to make it. In east China, like Suzhou, Jiaxing and Ningbo, the fillings would be bean paste, chestnut, jujube paste or fresh meat. In north China, it would be jujube or preserved fruit.

As a kind of food for festivals, zongzi has been eaten for a long time. The folklore goes that people ate it to commemorate a patriotic poet, Qu Yuan. It is said that in the 3rd century B.C., the poet committed suicide because his country had been invaded. People commemorated him by throwing glutinous rice, stored in bamboo tube, into the river. Later they wrapped it with reed leaves and strings. That's how the food developed. Some people give it as a present when visiting friends and relatives on the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Mid Autumn Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eight lunar months. People eat moon cakes for family gathering. The cake is round, like the full moon, with fillings inside. There are some patterns on the surface of the cake. During the mid autumn festival, people would place some cake and fruit.Moon cakes are different in different regions. Those made in Beijing, Suzhou, some areas of south Guangzhou and Chaozhou in Guangzhou are most famous. The fillings can be made of sugar, jujube paste, bean, ham, fruit, or cream, etc. It is also one of the presents that people can take with them when visiting friends and relatives on Mid Autumn Festival. 


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