Hi!!! Today- 6/9- is the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, which means it’s Dragon Boat Festival. Admittedly, Dragon Boat is not as big of a deal as Mid- Autumn, but hey, it’s still a nice holiday.
Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Jie is actually over 2000 years old, making it one of China’s oldest. According to legend, back in the warring states period, a popular official named Qu Yuan from the Chu Kingdom was banished for opposing his kingdom’s alliance with the Qin. He then lived for 28 years as a poet. However, the Qin ended up invading Chu’s capital and Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo river in despair. His local admirers raced to try to find his body, but to no avail. Thus, they threw sticky rice balls into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body. Since then, people have chosen to comemorate this day. Of course, there are other theories, but this seems to be the most popular one (and the one my parents and I grew up with)
As previously mentioned, Dragon Boat festival is not too big of a deal in the mainland. However, in some fishing villages, especially in Canton and Taiwan, there are dragon boat races. (read more here) I’ve never been to one, but I’ve heard they can be pretty spectacular. Other places also organize similar dragon boat races. There’s some in New York, Sydney and even in my old hometown of Memphis.
While racing boats is fun, most people are in it for the food. I’m talking about Zhongzi.
Zhongzis are basically packets of filled glutinous rice wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves. These are said to have originated from the sticky rice balls meant to feed fish. They have come a looooong way. Just like mooncakes, you can find zhongzis of all fillings and varieties. Even Starbuck has caught on
The most common is a savory type filled with pork belly and salted duck yolk. They are a bit messy and complicated, so we don’t make our own, but there are plenty of great recipes online. Speaking of salted duck eggs, they are also for some reason part of the Dragon Boat menu. Coincidentally, I just wrote about them last post.
So that’s it for Dragon Boat. Remember to eat Zhongzi!