Life Life

12/11/2020 - 09:21

Packaging Deep Love

How touching to see the gifts delivered to the flooded areas these days. Besides rice, instant noodles, bottled water and many common foods, there are also “tét cakes” and “chưng cakes”.

These cakes and their wrappings may not be very pretty, round or square, as they are supposed to be often found at the daily stalls in An Cuu market near my house or at “Nhat Le chưng cake” street.  However, with a glimpse of those cakes in the picture of freezing rain and wind of a flooding day, one feels a surge of bizarre and indescribable emotions.

Normally, making chưng cake and tét cake only appears in Tet holidays. However, quickly surfing on newspapers or Facebook pages, one can see a bustling atmosphere of making cakes in the whole country for the flooding Central of Vietnam.

There are places where the entire village joins hands; all the households contribute rice, meat and leaves; despite different ages, the young and old sit together to wash the leaves and wrap the cakes.  Dozens of large pots were lined up in long rows and fired overnight to be made up for the next morning so that the vehicles could gather the cakes and deliver them free of charge to the flooded areas.

There is a program in Nghe An province called “Green chưng cakes warming the hearts of people in flooded areas", along with Phu Yen province with the “Package of love” program sent to flooded areas. Furthermore, there are many more similar movements and programs with the name of love.

There were also regrets that happened when there were places where chưng cakes could not reach the hands of the people in flooded areas because of their spoilage and rancidness _  partly due to the bad weather, partly because they were made with the spirit of urgently going to save the hunger, so, the stages of cleaning, letting the cake cool ... were not fully seen to.

Moreover, the relief cart was both hot and sealed, and the cakes were stacked on one another.  The transportation process also encountered many congestions; not to mention the rain pouring down from above, and/or under the vehicle floors was immensely flooding and wet. One jokingly jokes, even people are rancid let alone the cakes!

In order to overcome this, some habitants in Lien Chieu district (Da Nang), Quy Nhon (Binh Dinh) came up with a way to put chưng cakes in a vacuum bag to preserve it for a longer time. What a love!

I think, above all from the story of tét cake and chưng cakes today is the heart and love.  In the past, there was a story telling that the 6th Hung King wanted to pass the throne; so he said to his sons: "If any of you find anything that are delicious and strange to prepare a feast, I will pass the throne".

The princes were racing to search.  Only Lang Lieu, a poor young man, didn't know what to prepare.  One day, in his dream, a God came up and said: "Hey son, nothing in Heaven and Earth is more precious than rice.  You should use sticky rice to make round and square cakes to represent Heaven and Earth, respectively.  Use the leaves to wrap the cake, put the stuffing inside to represent the image of  Father and Mother”.

Lang Lieu woke up, rejoiced and obeyed God's instructions.  In the midst of numerous choices of viands, Hung King was only satisfied with Lang Lieu's chưng cakes and dày cake, and decided to pass the throne to him.

Retelling the old story to see, each chưng cakes or tét cake is though small and has many shortcomings, but hidden inside are the feelings of people in many places entrusted to the Central region and Hue.  Circumstances may be difficult and poor, but the love is always full.

That is the clearest proof for the spirit of solidarity, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, from the past up to now; it is also the cultural beauty that has always spread out.  Every time facing the difficulties, the people of the whole country would come together to help and share in order to surmount the difficult circumstances.

By Dan Duy