Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chinese Eucharist?

Today is the 5th day of the 5th month in the lunar calendar, called "Duan Wu Jie" - the day for Dragon Boat racing and commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, faithful counselor to the emperor in the 3rd century B.C.E. My dad pointed out some similarities between Qu Yuan and Jesus this last weekend - both preaching justice, both rejected by the state, both dying for the sake of the people, and both celebrated by common peasants. To this I added that we also remember Qu Yuan's death by eating a ritual food - sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves called zong zi - like celebrating the Eucharist.

But I guess the similarities stop there - Qu Yuan committed ritual suicide protesting the corruption of the state, which I suppose could be an interpretation of the crucifixion. But the origin of the rice cake is that people would throw them into the river Qu Yuan drowned in to keep the fish from eating his body. This is the saving of the dead body, rather than the dead body saving us. And zong zi tastes better than the wafer/wine. At any rate, here's a pictorial guide for how to make it, with my mom demonstrating (don't we look alike! that's me in 30 years):

The leaf is folded and ready for filling with rice, meat, etc.
The filling is put in at the bottom of the leaf (rice, then meat, then rice to cover).

Pinching at the top of the bundle, the top half of the leaf folds over the rice.String is wrapped around the bundle, then knotted.
These are ready to be steamed. There are 2 basic kinds of zong zi - salty, with soy sauce marinated sticky rice and meat (Chinese sausage and pork) and other fillings (e.g. shitake mushrooms, peanuts, mung bean, etc.), and sweet, with sweet sticky rice and sweet red bean paste. Yum! Different colored string is used to differentiate - usually white for salty, red for sweet.


noirah said...

How are the mortal moms to compete?

hap said...

Sexy momma!

noirah said...

She had me at "free particle".

Gaunilo said...

And zong zi tastes better than the wafer/wine.

Y'all got to get to a church that serves fresh-baked whole wheat bread and port for Eucharist! I happen to know somewhere close down here...