Monday, October 22, 2012

22nd to 24th of June : Dragon boat festival

It is a very important festival in China

The legend
According to the legend, 2000 years ago, at the time of the warring states, Qu Yan a faithfull minister of the emperor drew himself in the river. He couldn't beat that the king refused to listen to his advise and doubt his words. Riverside resident searched for Qu Yan body in vain. They then threw rice into the river so that fishes wouldn't eat Qu Yan body.

During this festival dragon boat races are organized.
According to Wikipedia, Qu Yuan legend means that at least one contestant would drown during this competition. 
This festival is a chance for a family meeting. I was staying with my parents in law.

The importance of food in Chinese culture
I want to show you that in China history and food are linked. All food has an origin and some explanation. Food is one important aspect of Chinese culture. Another aspect is Chinese language oral and written Chinese.

What you should eat during the dragon boat festival?

  • Rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. It is compact and sticky rice. In the core, there is usualy some meat. Personnaly I never liked the gluing texture.

Why do you have this dish ? 
Probably because of Qu Yan the legend : riverside resident threw rice into the river

  • Eggs
As for easter, I think that eggs symbolize rebirth. No one found the body of Qu Yuan in the river. This means in a way he didn’t die or he was reborn? 

There is another explanation for the eggs : dragon boat festival is the beginning of summer heath. Chinese festival often follow the farming rythm such as: the beginning of summer, the full moon, the new year...
According to the tradition, the day of the dragon boat festival, the sun is at its highest and heat and lights are the strongest of the year : the ying and the yang. This is the only time in that egg can balance on its tip!

  • The eel

There is another legend for this festival : the white snake legend. A white snake transforms into a woman. She seduces and marries a Hangzhou man. She is finally exposed by a monk and  imprisonned. 
The eel dish might be a reference to the white snake legend ?

  • Pork
In China when there is a festival or a special occasion you kill a pig. This is a farmer tradition. We have the same rural tradition in France and in many countries.
It is my favourite dish with the eggs. Delicious but don't take too much of it, it is very fat! 

There were also other dishes but with no specific connection to the festival : spinach, Chinese vegetable, chicken…

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