Duanwu Festivities

Ready!
A convenient triangular packet of savory glutinous rice with pork (usually) and wrapped in bamboo leaves, :zongzi; is most often eaten around Duanwu Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Today Michael and I are in Tainan to see how southern style zongzi are made.
Did you say these are shellflower leaves?
Bamboo leaves.
Bamboo leaves?
Yes. Zongzi from the north are steamed. The rice filling is steamed first and then mixed and wrapped. Zongzi from the south use raw rice. Northern zongzi have a harder texture.
Today this store that・s nearly half a century old is making custom ordered zongzi with red yeast rice and whole grains. The entire family has been recruited to help with the work, but it・s no easy task. I think we・d do less damage washing the leaves.
Legend has it that Qu Yuan, a poet and government minister during the Warring States Period committed suicide in 278 BC to protest against the government. He drowned himself in a river on Duanwu, and his supporters threw zongzi into the water hoping fish would eat the rice and not his body. To commemorate Qu Yuan, zongzi is eaten around this day every year. And of course when it comes to Duanwu, there is also the famous Dragon Boat Festival.
Ready! Start!
Traditionally, dragon boat races were held to celebrate the summer rice planting. Though two and a half millennia ago sacrifices through drowning were involved, with all of us being required to wear life vests these days, it・s just an incredibly fatiguing, lung burning, blister inducing, painful, lactic acid building sport. Thank god practice is over. Whew.
Tainan is my favorite city in Taiwan. It has such a wonderful atmosphere, and people here are so friendly. This dragon boat festival makes the whole city special. I really like coming down to this. I hope you do too.
 
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