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Tet reminds of Chung cake

Fri, 13 Mar 2015 . Last updated Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:22

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Chung cake associated with the national history and the history of the universe is a familiar and indispensable food in New Year feast of Vietnamese people. The food carries on it the concepts of the nature and human beings.

When spring comes, very craft villages in Vietnam prepare for the Tet holiday. Tet is among us, we feel it through the flowers, chung cakes and paintings. This is the traditional food of Vietnamese people. This is an indispensable food in Tet holiday. All Vietnamese people know the myth and meaning of this cake. Rice is staple food. Glutinous rice is used to make round cakes representing the Sky Dome and square ones representing the Earth. Cakes are wrapped with “dong” leaves. Stuffing inside represents the parents and the birth. This food has symbolic meanings and cultural values. Local people share the same ingredients to make Chung cakes, including “dong” leaves, sticky rice, mung beans, pork and spices.

There are familiar images which are easily caught in any family of the village. Each one has their own tasks. They focus on fulfilling their jobs without any recall. Sharing the same ingredients and cake – making procedures, each place has its unique know-how. The secret of Tranh Khuc Chung cakes is the stuffing. Mung beans will be steamed, carefully crashed and finally in the cake. According to local people, this tip will make the cake more delicious and tasty. Ingredients are ready from November ahead of rapid-fire orders in December. Those images of all family members gathering indicate that local people have deep passion for this craft and the craft links local people together.

Having experience, Tranh Khuc craft villagers wrap Chung cakes very fast and nicely. As an experienced Chung maker, Bay can wrap 200 cakes per hour. Especially, local people don’t use mould to wrap the cake. However, all cakes look the same. Bay shared us his feeling for the craft and we had chance of carefully observing him wrap Chung cakes. Although he enthusiastically instructs us how to wrap a cake, we fail to make a nice one. I think that grasping principles is not enough. There should be more time to practice. The more important determinant is experience. Of course, these experiences I have learnt today are very interesting.

Located on a large beach of the Red River, Tranh Khuc craft village is characterized as peaceful and tranquil. In the past, because of limited cultivation land, local people levered sidelines such as cake making to earn living. And then the craft has become the main occupation of the village. No one can say for sure how long the craft has come to existence in the village. Even senior villagers have no idea about this. When they were little, they saw their parents make cakes and sold this food in markets. People follow former generations to develop the craft.

Tranh Khuc village has two hamlets, i.e. Thuong and Ha hamlets. 90% of the local households make Chung cakes. Thanks to traditional techniques, Tranh Khuc Chung cakes are very delicious and popular. The motivations for the craft development are experience and talents of craftsmen.

According to experienced makers, good materials make good cakes. Glutinous rice is mainly transported from Nam Dinh and Thai Binh. Leaves are taken from mountainous provinces particularly Nghe An, because the leaves in this province are large and give a very eye-catching green color. Cake is made in a professional manner. All stages from leaf preparation to cake cooking are specialized.

Chung cakes have an important meaning in the festival of Tet Holiday. The food carries on it the concepts of the nature and human beings. Not only preserving a traditional craft, but the local people and other people around the country are succeeding and promoting traditional cultural value. In 2012, Tranh Khuc cake making village was officially recognized as a traditional craft village by the Hanoi People’s Committee. The title contributes to recognizing the cultural and historical values of the village and efforts to promote the traditional craft of Tranh Khuc villagers.

Chung cakes of the village are present in big supermarkets and many cities across the country. Tranh Khuc Chung cakes have been exported to Asian markets including South Korea, Japan and Thailand as well as European countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic and Russia since 2008. The taste and traditional appearance of Chung cakes are important factors because target customers of Chung cakes are Vietnamese communities working, studying and residing aboard.

Making Chung cakes generates dozens of billions of VND each year, accounting for the majority of the total income of the village. Tranh Khuc village is currently focusing on building a brand for Chung Cake, accordingly promoting the craft village and its traditional cultures. Local people also acquire modern equipment and techniques to enhance productivity.

Exporting Chung cakes does not increase income of craftsmen but also helps overseas Vietnamese and foreign customers somehow feel the atmosphere of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam. This helps promote the national culture. The village is lying peaceful alongside the river. They are preserving and developing the traditional craft day by day. When the New Year comes, people always think of Chung cakes. Accordingly, traditional culture will be respected and preserved.

 

Source: VTC10 - NETVIET

 

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