Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Preserving our culture: Our Cantonese Zhung


This is the plant we use the leaves to wrap the zhung.

The standard big one is more than 1/2 a kg. Some mums make it smaller so it cane be eaten by one person.

Photo: This one is made by my boy's girlfriend's mom, also a Cantonese. I've already mixed up the whole lot and ate some:-)
Our Kwong Neng Cantonese make a special big Zhung. It is big enough to feed a family. To be extravagant, we would have 2 at one seating.

Grandpa went to the jungles and found this big leaf plant which is bigger than the galangal plant and tamed it as a cultivated plant. I have seen him make it and mould it into a pyramid with a rectangle base. 

This Zhung is very significant, we don't eat it only during the Duan Wu aka Dragon festival. We eat it at all special occassions. It is auspicious, the wrapping represents clothing, and the filling food. We have a big slab of belly of pork. Fat means prosperity. The ingredients are glutinious rice, pork, peanuts, shitaki mushroom, white nuts aka ginko nuts and dried shrimp.

When we eat it, Ah Kung would say, got food to eat, and clothes to wear. We don't have any need in life.

To eat it, Ah Kung would use a clean pair of chopsticks and cut the zhung into two. Then he mixes up the rice and ingredients so everyone gets a bit of everything. Thus signifying harmony.

Our Ah Kung made this, mum learnt from him. My two older sisters Rose and Elizabeth too have learnt it. Sister Margaret has a clump of this plant in her garden. It's my roots, and when I visit the old home country, I must ask Rose to teach me.

This zhung is made by my 3rd Aunty Ah Fong and kindly posted on Facebook by her daughter Catherine. Thanks Catherine.

Thanks Sharlene for taking the photo of the plant.

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