Bánh chưng is a Vietnamese traditional dish during the celebration of Tết – the Lunar New Year in Vietnamese. Bánh chưng can be compared to zong, a traditional Chinese sticky rice dish. The main difference is that bánh chưng is made in square shape. This square represents the Earth. In Vietnamese tradition, there is another rice cake which represents the Sky. It is made in round shape.
For me, bánh chưng represents a sense of home and togetherness. When the old year ends and the new year comes, families get together to make bánh chưng and bring it as a gift to their relatives.
This video captures the journey of making my first bánh chưng.
Two of my roommates partook in this journey with me. One is Spring – our cameraman, director and video editor. She is a fellow Vietnamese who comes from the Central region of the country. The other one is Ysah. Ysah is of Filippino descent but has come to Canada at a young age.
In the end, I realize that bánh chưng making is a skill rather than a talent. Most importantly, I got to experience what my mother would go through during Tết. She would spend hours to shop, prepare, cook and clean for us. I came to realize the patience, the love and the art which she embodied to make Tết a special occasion.
Nhat-Anh has not been celebrating Tết with my family for the last 5 years. This is the first time which I decided to make my own bánh chưng. Growing up in Vietnam, it was a must-have dish for my family during Tết. Whenever I see it, I am reminded of the time which we would sit down next to one another and rejoice in each other’s presence. I will be reminded of my family.