粽子, or a family feast

rice dumplings (粽子: zòng zi) are a rather antiquated tradition passed down from our ancestors: when a celebrated and patriotic poet – qu yuan, of the warring states period in chinese history – drowned himself, these triangular dumplings were devised to be thrown into the river for the fish to eat so they would leave his body alone.

on a more snarky less serious note, the dumplings probably had a dual purpose – not only tasty enough to prove sufficient distraction for those gullible fish, the glutinous rice is so stodgy as to end up leaden in their stomachs. I put forth the hypothesis that our ancestors were both clever and merciless.

I feel almost culpable – I’m part of the generation that’s consigning this tradition to near obscurity and do-if-convenient. one day I will learn to make this – even if I’m not sure I’ll ever finish eating one on my own.

so, if you’re making efforts to keep up cultural traditions, I salute you. and in the meantime, I’ll tell you the best rice dumplings are grandma-made, chock-full of dried mussels, pork, mushrooms, chestnuts, and a salted egg yolk – surrounded by sticky-but-separate rice grains that are soft and not mushy.

p.s. this is a month after the festival – but hey, umm, photos were taken and must be shared!

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6 thoughts on “粽子, or a family feast

    • I need to learn how to recreate that outpouring of love – I can chop my vegetables (almost) the same way, and throw in the same ingredients as grandma – but it never comes out the same!

  1. You’re right, these babies are stodgy. If anyone ever needed a definition of stodgy, this would be it. I love the extra fatty pork and the texture of the yellow beans (which soak up any soy sauce you drizzle on top). I missed out on these this year as I didn’t see my family over this time.

    It always seems like such a ritual/chore to make these, I’ve never tried making them but it seems that you must set aside a whole day. And then you have to give them all away.

    • I really like those yellow beans (ashamedly, I dig them out of the rice). it’s such an involved activity it’s madness – I think that’s why grandmas make so many, the sheer set up means that a small batch would be a waste of effort.

      can you imagine: when we’re grandmas, we will be the guards of this tradition!

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