The holiday known as the Dragon Boat Festival is almost here! The Dragon Boat Festival, called Duānwǔ jié (端午節) in Chinese, starts June 2nd. To prepare, you need to get familiar with zongzi. Anybody who’s anybody will be eating zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival. In fact, another name for the Dragon Boat Festival is the Meat Dumpling Festival (肉粽節 Ròu zòng jié).
Zongzi (粽子) are a type of rice dumpling wrapped in a leaf. The leaf holds a ball of sticky rice, and within the sticky rice you’ll find a treasure of delicious things!
Zongzi commemorate a famous Chinese poet from ancient times. The Warring States era poet Qu Yuan threw himself into a river and drowned because of the affairs of his home state, the kingdom of Chu. The Chu people then threw zongzi into the river while they searched for Qu Yuan’s body. The zongzi were used to keep hungry fish from eating their beloved poet.
So today we become the fish, and eat all varieties of zongzi. Some zongzi are savory, and contain any combination of pork, corn, mushrooms, shrimp, or duck egg yolk, among other things. Some zongzi are sweet, and contain red beans, soy beans, mung beans, peanuts, chestnuts, etc. Whatever you’re craving, there is sure to be a zongzi for you.
This year. even Starbucks is selling zongzi, but only if you live in mainland China. For the rest of us, we’ll have to head down to our local Chinatown and pick up a bunch.