"Banh Chung" - the soul of Vietnamese New Year
"Banh Chung" (square glutinous rice cake) is a traditional cake of Vietnamese people in Tet holidays.
For the Vietnamese, making Banh Chung is an ideal way to express gratitude to their ancestors and homeland.
“Banh Chung” was invented by the 18th prince of Hung King in the contest of looking for his successor.
According to the legend, 3,000-4,000 years ago, Prince Lang Lieu made round and square cakes, with the round Day cake symbolising the sky and the square Chung cake, the Earth (under the ancient Vietnamese perception), as offerings on the occasion of Spring.
In the ancient conception, the Earth is square, hence Banh Chung has square shape to reflect the Earth.
Since the cakes he offered were of special meaning and delicious taste, Lang Lieu was selected to be the next king.
Since then, in honor of this, Vietnamese people always make and have this for the Lunar New Year. Chung cake has become the most famous and irreplaceable traditional Vietnamese food in Tet holiday.
This legend aims to remind the next generations of the ancient tradition as well as the primary of Chung cake. Besides, it emphasises the important role of rice and nature in the water rice culture.
In contrast to the fast food in modern life, the process of making Banh Chung is time-consuming and requires the joint work of several people.
Main ingredients are glutinous rice, pork, and green beans wrapped square in broad-blade leaves that will give the rice a green color after about 12 hours' boiling. The wrapping power must be neither too tight nor too loose.
The food has a high level of nutrition with an original tasty flavor and may be kept for a long time. Eating Banh Chung with vegetable pickles will bring you unforgettable taste.
In the traditional conception of Vietnamese people, the process of making Banh Chung is an opportunity for the family’s reunion. Sitting around the fire, family members tell one another the past stories and are ready for a New Year with best wishes.
Nowadays, in some big cities, the business lifestyle of modern society prevent people from preparing the cake, however the habit of worship ancestors with it never changes. It is the evidence of the Vietnamese loyalty and deep gratitude to ancestors.