2019-05-06 20:04:19 source: Zhejiang News; Translation: In Zhejiang
In the ancient times, there was a general name for a group of seasons, i.e. the 24 Solar Terms. It shows the relationship between universe, season, climate and agriculture, which is unique creation by Chinese ancestors. To date, it has functioned as a complete set of weather calendar to guide the agricultural production in China. The 24 Solar Terms were listed as UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
Solar terms originated in China and was spread to countries in the East Asian cultural sphere later on. Though each term was named based on the seasonal changes of climate in North China Plain, people living in different climate zones still use it.
May 6 marks the seventh solar term Lixia (立夏), or Summer Begins, according to traditional East Asian calendars. What do Zhejiang locals eat during this period?
1. Longquan County
When Lixia arrives, people in Longquan County like to eat glutinous rice with peas and Wumifan, a kind of rice dyed with Vaccinium bracteatum Thunb. leaves. Made with peas, ham and diced bamboo shoot, glutinous rice with peas is splendid in color and taste. Wumifan is popular among the elderly and kids.
2. Tangxi Ancient Town
The traditional custom of making rice sculpture has been preserved in Tangxi Town of Hangzhou. Glutinous rice is grounded into powder. After it’s steamed, knead the rice powder into different shapes, of which “Lixia Puppy” is most well-known. The locals preserve a custom of making “Lixia Puppy” glutinous rice cake for the kids on the day. It’s said that it can make the kids as strong as a puppy and will not get ill in the summer days.
Another snack is called the “Ash Duck Egg”. Duck eggs are preserved in plant ashes and yellow mud for around a month. Preserving eggs during Lixia and eating the eggs during Dragon Boat Festival is a local custom.
Ningbo has four famous Lixia dishes, which are braised bamboo shoots, Hemudu black rice, rice with bacon and beans, bacon and bean halves and vegetable soup. The vegetable soup is believed to have heat-clearing and detoxicating effects, while the bamboo shoot can strengthen tendons and bones.
In Jinhua, whenever Lixia arrives, the housewives will clean red dates and steam them in a pot until almost cooked in the early morning. They put two eggs into the dates and add some brown sugar and continue to steam them together until the eggs take the shape of poached-eggs.
The glutinous rice with peas, bamboo shoot and pork is also a must-eat food for Jinhua people. According to the elderly of Jinhua, by eating the dish, legs will be as strong as the spring bamboo shoot and the eyes will be as clear and bright as the peas.
In the past, people used to eat wheat cake and steamed bun during the Lixia period. The wheat cake can be sweet or salty. The sweet one is stuffed with brown sugar, which is called the Old Shell Cake, and the salty one is stuffed with scallion oil, preserved vegetables and pork.
In Wenzhou, every household will eat Huaidou beans, spring bamboo shoot and green plums when Lixia arrives. The locals believe that eating Huaidou beans can strengthen their teeth, eating spring bamboo shoot can strengthen their tendons and bones, and eating green plums can nourish their waist. During this period, the hilsa herring starts to show up on the market. As a precious aquatic product and a kind of gift, it attracts many wealthy folks to scramble to buy. While the ordinary households usually eat Chinese herring.
(Executive Editor: Yongliu He)