Food Specialties For Tet
Like many other people in the world, the Vietnamese people attach special attention to the celebration of Tet (lunar new year holidays). To prepare for this event, beside reconfiguring the interior of their homes to make them look more beautiful, they pay great attention to the preparation of food specialties, so that they can have delicious and flavourfuI meals for their visitors on the occasion of the new year.In the Vietnamese language, there is a special expression An Tet which literally means "eat the Tet", but which embraces the meaning of celebrating the event with all traditional activities involved, including eating. Eating is important on the new year holidays.On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, and fried, boiled, and stewed dishes. In the North, the menu for the Tet banquet includes pig trotters stewed with dried bamboo shoots, boiled chicken, carp cooked in salted sauce, jellied meat, and kohlrabi, cauliflower or onion fried with pig skin or lean pork. Thus, the menu includes meat, fish and vegetables. In addition, there are two other items that can not be missed: Banh chung (square cake made of glutinous rice, pork and green beans wrapped in the dong leaves and boiled) and pickled onions. As one eats much meat during Tet, one should eat some sour pickled onions to facilitate digestion.In Hue, the ancient imperial city, located in the Central part of the country, the culinary art reached its best in feudal times with hundreds of dishes created for the occasion of Tet for the kings and the royal family. Now during Tet holiday, every family in Hue has Banh tet (round shaped glutinous rice cake), sugarcoated coconut, roasted melon seeds, and different pork dishes. The menu may also include beef cooked with garlic and garligale, various kinds of meat pies such as gio thu (pig's head meat pies), cha lua (pork bologna), grilled shrimp pies, boned pig's trotter stuffed with meat, nem chua (fermented pork hash), pickled scallion, unripe banana cooked in sweet and sour sauce. Preserved fruits are also masterpieces of Hue women. Women here make all kinds of preserved fruit such as ginger, waxy pumpkin, apple, orange, lemon and carrot in various shapes and colours. To welcome Tet is to welcome the spring. However, in January, which is spring time, the weather is still cold. It is a good idea to warm up with a cup of hot tea and a slice of preserved ginger. In Hue, ginger is grown on the hills. A ginger root from Hue is not as big as the ones grown in Hanoi, but it has a golden yellow colour and a special flavour.In the South, with Ho Chi Minh City as the centre, every family has a pot of pork cooked in coconut milk with salt. As the coconut tree is very popular in his region, the Southerners are accustomed to making use of its milk or its oil when they prepare food, which gives cooked food a special flavour. Pork cooked in coconut milk should have all the skin, fat and lean sections. When done, the fat section looks transparent and the lean one turns reddish with the flavour of coconut milk. Also, there are pickled green bean sprouts with leeks, sliced carrot and turnip. When you eat pickled bean sprouts with pork cooked in coconut milk, you will enjoy it and never get sick of it. As it is warmer in the South than in the North and the Central region, cooked meat is more popular in the North as it stays unspoiled for a longer time. Another favourite for many people is bitter melon stuffed with meat. It is believed by many older people that bitter melon is antipyretic, nutritious and may treat many diseases. Banh tet and banh trang (rice waffle) are a must on the Tet menu. Vegetables, boiled or cooked meat and pickled bean sprouts wrapped in a thin banh trang make a good dish in hot weather. Banh tet usually goes well with dried turnips soaked in fish sauce.The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse What they have in common is that the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests.