Let them eat cake: Hanoi students learn some traditional Tet cooking

Thanh Nien News

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Marie Curie High School has organized a banh chung festival for all students to help them learn how to make the traditional cake for the Tet Lunar New Year celebration. 
Nguyen Xuan Khang, principal of the school in downtown Hanoi, said the sticky rice cakes are the spirit of the festival.
“We've asked the students to wrap and boil the cakes together so that they have beautiful memories of Tet and we want them to remember a part of the culture of where they were born and grow up.”
Marie Curie students gather to make sticky rice cakes at the school from February 6 to 10, a week before the festival peaks.
Parents also join the event to revisit their childhood experience. A mother says her family has stopped making the cakes at home for a long time as they are widely available on the market. “Now making them with my child, I really felt Tet is coming.”


 The students have a lot of fun making their first banh chung, which contains very basic ingredients including sticky rice, mung beans, and pork. Legend has it that one of the princes of Vietnam’s first royal family invented the recipe four to five thousand years ago for a food contest. His simple offer beat all other luxury dishes and has become the inevitable part of Vietnamese Tet ever since.
Students learn all basic steps, from cutting dong leaves for the wrapping.


The students arrange green leaves into a frame to keep the cake square, according to old-time belief that the Earth was square and the sky was round.
 Tying the cakes with these bamboo strings is the hardest part, according to students. 
These 12th graders said this will be their last chance to make the cake before entering college.
Students tie their names around the cakes they have made. Parents and teachers help boil the cakes for each class.
 Students also make simpler kinds of sticky rice cakes like these.
 Cakes are put into a big pot for boiling.
Boiling banh chung.


A boy checks his phone while joining his classmates in a song.


These cakes are ready to eat. Students would look for the ones with their names and bring the cakes home.

                                                Photo credit: VnExpress

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