Some Asian delicacies are so one-of-a-kind, they are served only on special occasions. Some of these are made available as a culinary highlight of the festivities, while others are so culturally significant they are the very center of many celebrations.
Here are 7 eastern food fares that are served especially during Asian festivals.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month every year in Chinese communities. It coincides with many harvest festivals which occur in Western societies. It is during this time that mooncakes, a sweet moon-shaped pastry dish made with sesame seeds, lotus seed paste, and salted duck eggs, are served and exchanged as gifts.
Glutinous rice dumplings with sweet or savoury fillings like sesame, red bean paste, or minced pork. Tangyuans are made by rolling up rice flour into little balls which are then boiled. They are commonly served during the Lantern Festival in Taiwan, held during the first full moon of the lunar new year.
An integral delicacy in Cheung Chau, a small dumbbell-shaped island 12 kilometers south of Hong Kong. There, during the annual bun festival held between the months of April and May, participating men race upward the bun towers – large bamboo structures which are piled high with sweet buns. The object of the activity is to seize as many buns as possible.
Koreans love their native condiment so much they gave it its very own festival. The annual Kimchi Festival, held in Gwangju, South Korea, is observed for several days, during which revelers can watch several cultural events like traditional weddings and workshops, join in contests like folk singing or kimchi-making, and indulge in lots and lots of this spicy pickled cabbage concoction.
Available in Sri Lanka and India only during the three days of the Pongal harvest festival, this is a traditional delicacy made by boiling milk inside a pot to which rice, jaggery (unrefined sugar), and sugar cane syrup. This tasty pudding is first offered to the Sun God before being eaten by families across the sub-continent. It is said that if the rice and milk boil over the pot, then abundance and prosperity will overflow in the household, as well.
Pan-fried batter cakes and various other ingredients like fish and shredded cabbage, associated with Hiroshima and Kansai regions of Japan. The name translates into, “fry any way you like”. Okonomiyaki is typical Japanese festival food and every matsuri has one or two stalls devoted to the selling of these Japanese pancakes.
Rice cakes mixed with duck egg slices, baked in circular clay pots lined with banana leaves and covered with a metal sheet with charcoal on top for even heating. The finished pastry is slathered with butter and grated coconut meat. These rice cakes are popular in the Philippines during the Christmas Season, when attendees during the midnight masses would buy these treats from the stalls outside the church.
So the next time you travel to an Asian city, be sure to schedule it during one of these holidays. You may have to contend with the jam-packed crowds and the in-season rates, but one thingâ€™s for sure: thereâ€™s a lot of comfort food to treat yourself to.