Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu)

About 2300 years ago, there was a poet and statesman named Qu Yuan.  Qu didn’t want to see his country be conquered by the Qin dynasty.  As a result, he was slandered by an aristocrat, and was exiled to the Chinese countryside by King Qingxiang.  While he was there, Qu became extremely depressed and wrote love poems for his country. Qu was especially distressed after learning his capital had been captured by the Qin.  Sadly, he committed suicide in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.   

Qu’s friends and neighbors were greatly upset by his passing.  Legend states that they would drop bamboo wrapped rice dumplings in the river, so the fish would not eat his body.  They also rowed dragon boats on the river to look for his body, and to scare the fish away. 

Today, Chinese folks commemorate Qu's death by celebrating Duanwu, aka Dragon Boat festival.  On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people eat zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) and race dragon boats.

Chris and I decided to celebrate Dragon Boat festival by heading out to Yu Gardens.  I wanted to see what these zongzi are all about!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!
Chris gets a picture with a statue of the poet Qu.
When we arrived at Yu Gardens, we encountered all kinds of dragon boat goodies.

According to Chinese folklore, children are supposed to wear these perfumed pouches during Dragonboat Festival for protection from evil spirits.

Chinese hairpins are so pretty!
We were getting hungry, so we hit the street food area in search of zongzi.  

Vendors prepped all sorts of street food goodies.
My favorite was guangshijiuxiangbing, a fried pancake with greens in the middle!

Chris liked them also!

I was getting full after the pancake, but I needed to try the zongzi.

Zongzi usually contain rice and egg, pork, or sweet red beans.  
The number one rule for zongzi is don't eat the bamboo leaves. 
The vendor removes the bamboo leaves from the steamy dumpling.

The dumpling was a bit much.  I definitely preferred the guangshijiuxiangbing.

To quote Chris, this stuff has the consistency of thick fried oatmeal and the density of lead.  However, he did like the egg in the center.  This dumpling would definitely keep the fish full!
Unfortunately, this was the closest we came to watching the boat races.
After a day of carbs, carbs, and more carbs I went home and took a long nap!  Thank goodness for three-day holidays!