Lunar New Year or “Tet” is the most important festival of the year for Vietnamese, and many other Asian people. For children living in YWAM Mercy’s community-based Children’s Homes, Lunar New Year means making Chung cakes – one of the many events of the season that children always look forward to.
YWAM Mercy has organized making Chung cakes in our Children’s Homes for 10 years. The children now know step-by-step the process for making the cakes. The Home staff teach them how to measure and level the sticky rice and mung beans for each cake, how to layer the Dong leaves, and the proper technique to tie the cakes, not too tight and not too loose, so they hold together well while being steamed.
Traditionally, Chung cakes are made several days before Tet. On the lunar calendar, 2018, is the year of the dog. The children and staff spent Friday afternoon, February 9, to complete their Chung cake making mission. Using the very familiar ingredients of sticky rice, pork, mung beans and Dong leaves, the Chung cakes are prepared by the children under the staff’s guidance. Together, they cleaned the Dong leaves, blended and steamed the green beans, and assigned roles in each step of wrapping the cakes. In all, 60 cakes for their extended families were made in this way.
I love the fresh smell of the rice and green beans and the nostalgic fragrance of pork mixed with fish sauce and pepper. I love the moments with brothers and sisters seated in a circle making Chung cakes and telling jokes. Some of us sneezed due to the pepper as well! Maybe our cakes are not really square and beautiful like in a restaurant or a food shop but our cakes are not only wrapped in Vietnamese tradition, but also in love, our love for one other. I hope next year I can make perfect cakes.