The Dumpling Festival

Brief History of the Dumpling Festival ( Duan Wu Jie )

Over 2000 years ago during the period of the Warring States, a famous and well-respected poet by the name of Qu Yuan lived as a patriot towards his state country of Chu.

Whilst wandering the countryside, he received news that his country had fallen into enemy hands. Much aggrieved on what has happened to his beloved country, he jumped into the river and drowned.

Villagers who lived around the river worked together and attempted their best effort to try and find and save him with their Dragon Boats. However, they failed in their attempt. Worried that Qu Yuan's body will be eaten by the fishes and sea spirits in the river, silk or bamboo leaves filled with rice was thrown into the river to appease the creatures.

To commemorate the incident of Qu Yuan's patriotic death, the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese calendar has been set aside as Duan Wu Jie or The Dumpling Festival.

Dumpling Festival in Today's Modern Context

In today's world, The Dumpling Festival is still commemorated with rice dumplings being bought or made and eaten while Dragon Boat races are held at the rivers.

However perhaps the true nature of this festival is that family members come back together and commemorate it as one united family. Usually, family lunches or dinners will be held with the rice dumplings being part of the main fare.

My family's take towards this Dumpling Festival perhaps goes a step further, where the dumplings are hand made with tender loving care. I am fortunate that I have aunties and my maternal grandmother who cook the ingredients and bind the rice together in the bamboo leaves, each one painstakingly made.

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Aunty Florence's Hand-Made Dumplings

My Aunty Florence is one lady who loves to make excellent food and pastries for others. I think that the joy of seeing others enjoy her food is what keeps her passion going at her own expenses and without asking.

Her dumplings (as seen from the picture below) are filled generously with tender pork belly, crunchy yet smooth chestnuts and the all time favourite of a large portion of salted egg yolk. This year's dumplings also had dried scallops in it which were cooked just right with the perfect moisture and fragrance. I must also add a comment that my expectations of dumplings have been set quite high because of her standards so I generally prefer my aunt's dumplings to the ones outside. (Though there are exceptions)

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Aunty Florence's Dumplings in all their generous portions!

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Grandma's and my Aunty Eng's Hand-Made Dumplings

This year's dumpling festival has also been a special one for the family. My maternal grandmother brought her hand to also wrapping the dumplings as well. In the past few years, she only cooked the ingredients, but this year she surprised us all.

Wrapping dumplings is by no means an easy task. One has to accurately measure the amount of rice, filling to be put inside the leaf and thereafter, firmly bind the contents together with raffia. Much strength and skill is needed to form the dumplings into their nice shapes. Peifu! Peifu!

Grandma's and my Aunty Eng's dumpling were delicious as well. This version is slightly different from my Aunty Florence's dumpling with the omission of dark sauce and the addition of a simple slice of sweet potato. This is actually my first time trying such a version and I was truly astounded when my first bite into the dumpling gave such a lovingly sweet taste and texture. The rice itself was also well cooked and not too mushy or sticky. Yummy!

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Grandma and Aunty Eng's luster looking dumplings.

Indeed, The Dumpling Festival has each year brought many families back together and enjoy the delicious rice dumplings while commemorating the patriotic hero Qu Yuan. While the legends of the past took place thousands of years ago, the spirit of cohesiveness and respect lives on till today. A true magic of history by no means long gone, and will always be there for years to come.

1 comments:

At June 10, 2008 at 2:49 AM xXxXZHAOZHENxXxX said...

hi.NAI NAI,ENG MAI AND AUNTIE FLORENCE'S DUMPLINGS ARE ALL NICE.REALLY DELICIOUS HOR.DON'T SAY I FAKE FAKE DE HOR.ITS TRUE MAH.GO ASK THEM DO AND TATSE BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING HOR.THEN YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I SAY ARE ALL RIGHT.SO YUMMY!I LOVE IT!

 

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