The coronavirus has forced people all over the world to shelter-in-place which for many, has led to boredom or anxiety. Children in our three community-based children’s homes had a break in the mononity when they made traditional Troi Cakes (bánh trôi) on what Vietnamese call “Cold Foods Day” (Tết Hàn Thực in Vietnamese), which usually takes place on the third day of the third lunar month (March 26th in 2020.)
Traditionally, on Cold Foods Day, families gathered to remember their ancestors. The name came from the avoidance of lighting any kind of fire on this day, even for cooking food, although this practice is no longer followed. These days, it has become part of Vietnamese culture for families to make and eat Troi Cakes, which consist of chewy rice flour cakes with a sweet bit of palm sugar in the center and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Children look forward to eating these sweet treats.
Staying indoors, I felt very uncomfortable, but making Troi cakes was a lot of fun.
Making Troi Cakes really lifted the spirits of everyone in the Homes during this time of lockdown. Forming the handmade cakes kept small hands busy and gathered the children and staff together for a joy and laughter-filled activity.