AMS 055 – Spring 2015
TA: Nina Cole
My Madeleine – Banh Chung
When I was younger, the occasion that I waited the most was the Tet holiday, the most important holiday in our Vietnamese culture. This special occasion marks the beginning of each New Year, the arrival of spring, based on lunar calendar. Tet holiday is national, so every one has about seven days off at least. Schools close, companies stop working, government agencies and hospital keep minimum staff as possible. Every person stops their daily routine, and hurry goes home for family reunions. During Tet, we will visit our relative, temples or church to forget trouble in the past year and hope for a better upcoming year. Children like me always love Tet, the only occasion that we were dressed up with newest outfit, visited many places, got lucky money, and fed with the most delicious foods only have in Tet. There are always many kind of sweet candy, which made from fresh fruit such as coconut, squash, ginger or mango…
The main food that took longest time to prepare and could be saved almost for few months later is Banh Chung. Banh Chung is a type of rice cake symbolized to the earth of Vietnamese tradition. The origin is told by the legen of Lang Lieu, a prince of the last king of the Six Hung Dynasty, who worked hard and became a very successful king. Later, to remember our ancestor, who created our country, Banh Chung was passed on generation. The preparation of Banh Chung from the beginning to the final product would take few days. From the simple ingredients as sweet sticky rice, golden mung bean, fatty pork, black pepper, salt and onion, Banh Chung was folded in the banana leaves as a squared block, and boiled in hot water at least twelve hours. Banh Chung is a block of sticky rice has layer of mung beans and fatty pork layer in the middle. Banh Chung has the light green color, which was tinted by the layer of banana leaves folded outside after cooking. My parents used to made about twenty Banh Chung, about one pound each. They will gift my grand parents a set of two, and the closest relative family or friends will receive a set as well.
I remember that our family only had Banh Chung in Tet, and