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People across China are celebrating this special occasion by eating Zongzi, the glutinous rice dumpling. But besides zongzi, what other Dragon Boat dishes are you familiar with? Chinese emperors used to honor the festival through delicious foods eaten only on this special holiday.
Known in the West as Dragon Boat Festival, China’s Duanwu Festival is also called the Double Fifth, as it falls on the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. In history, the date was considered unlucky, so Chinese people, including the royal family, often went out of their way to avoid evil spirits. This tradition lasted until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.
On this same day many years ago, the emperor and his concubines would board a boat and drop dumplings made of glutinous rice into the water, honoring Yu Quan, a famous patriotic poet who drowned.
Nowadays, pastry chefs like Mr. Zhao use Duanwu festival as an opportunity to create new special snacks, while still honoring tradition.
Here he’s making a mini zongzi, as small as a thumb. For ordinary people, zongzi is always eaten with sugar. But in royal palace, things are little bit different. Instead of sugar, they dip their zongzi into honey mixed with osmanthus flowers.
For royal family, there was also a special kind of cookie that was not to be forgotten on Duanwu festival. In the past, chefs would decorate the cookie with patterns of five kinds of poisonous insects. At that time, people believed that eating the cookie would ward off evil spirits. But this year Mr. Zhao has put a spin on the decoration to lighten things up, switching the old pattern for five kinds of flowers.
For the Chinese, Duanwu is not just a 3-day holiday. It’s a tribute to Chinese history and traditions, which have been lasted for thousands of years.
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