Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival

Think of American holidays off school. What days do they usually fall on?

In the US most holidays or days off fall on a Monday or Friday so it doesn't interfere with the students' school day (they aren't randomly dispersed in the middle of the week).

Since holidays in China are based on the lunar calendar and are rooted in a long long history, they fall on random days.

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month (June 12th). As I mentioned in my last post, the Shenzhen Government changed the kids' school days around so they went to school on saturday and sunday, and then got Monday and Tuesday off (and Wednsday is a holiday) so they could have three consecutive days off. Even though this has happened many times, it still annoys me that we find out so last minute and our schedule is rearranged.

Anyways, Dragon Boat is celebrated because of Qu Yuan, who conquered someone in the 300 BC's and then committed suicide by jumping in a river. People threw rice that had reeds connected to it to scare the fish away.

Dragon Boat festival is celebrated with dragon boat racing (which looks really neat--but sadly there is nothing going on in Shenzhen and I am too exhausted to travel to Guangzhou or HK). People also eat the traditional rice dumping (called zongzi) which was inspired by the rice-reeds that were thrown in the river for Qu Yuan. These are EVERYWHERE. Zongzi are considered chinese tamales in the west.

Zongzi is sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf. In the South there is usually egg and meat in the middle, in the North zongzi is more dessert like and there is usually red bean paste or taro (a root similar to sweet potato) in the middle. 

I think its funny//interesting because these zongzi are also sold at street food stands where they are unlabeled--when i ask my chinese coworker if they know whats in the middle they have no idea, but that doesn't stop them from buying it! 

It FREAKS me out that there is meat in the middle of these and they aren't refrigerated! 

Yesterday at work our company brought in some zongzi for everyone to try. I put it aside because i was still a little grossed out. During the 10 minute break of my 4:20-6:30 class i was STARVING and decided to try it. I heated it up in the microwave for about 4 minutes. 

It reminded me of a chipotle burrito--but with banana leaf instead of aluminum. Most chinese people don't use any utensils but i had to use a spoon. 

The sticky rice was REALLY good. When I mentioned the egg tasted different i found out it was duck egg--i ended up spooning most of the yolk into the trash haha. My coworkers also warned me there was pork fat in it--which is supposed to melt and make it taste really good. That was spooned out too. 

Overall the sticky rice was really good! I probably would never buy one on my own because I'm still a little freaked out by the surprise of whats in it and that its not refrigerated. 

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! 

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