|Cultural delights: Ca Hue (left) and an ao dai fashion show are performed as parts of the programme.
by Phuoc Buu
Once possessed by the sweet flavour of Hue cake, which used to be very popular in the former capital, a local resident has created a traditional entertainment programme of song and dance which features a tea ceremony based around the traditional Hue cake.
The programme, Charming Hue, runs in the evening on the last day of each month.
Viet Bao, 29, the programme organiser, said the Kim Long Communal House was lit up for the programme. Guests sat on sedge mats in the yard while tea was served in Hue style by young girls dressed in the traditional ao dai.
A group of artists performed ca Hue, a form of Hue royal court music and the softly sung melodies with the accompanying 16-chord zither and a flute evoked the past glory of old Hue.
"I chose ca Hue, a distinctive entertainment performed on boats," Bao said.
Songs ended as the second tea came around, this time served with the Hue cake, a dried sticky-rice powder caste in square shapes with printed flowers or letters on top. It is only found in Hue and few people can make it.
|Piece of cake: Girls make traditional Hue cakes during a performance of the Charming Hue programme. Cakes are made in the shapes of carambola fruit, mangosteen or papaya. — VNS Photos Phuoc Buu
Visitors then watched a mother and daughter make the cake.
"I was insane with memories of the cake and for a period of time I couldn't find it anywhere in Huem," Bao said. "Then I accidentally found someone in my home village who could make it well."
He said his grandmother used to make it for him. It was a popular dish during the Tet (lunar New Year) holiday or at the commemoration of ancestors, but it had disappeared about 15 years ago.
"I was driven to bring it back, the cake, and other quintessential characteristics of old Hue. Not only for me but for everyone," he said.
Bao decided to hold the programme at night because there was hardly any recreation after sunset for visitors in Hue.
He put the idea of making the Kim Long Communal House a cultural site to the local authorities and thus the programme was born.
Huynh Van Song, an 80-year-old local, said: "There used to be a market in front of the 200-year-old building, which made it dirty and spoiled the solemnity. This new show is elegant and suits the house." — VNS
Tickets are available every day at the Hue Enterprise Office at No 11 Le Loi Street, Hue. Phone bookings can be made on 090-537-6252. Tickets cost VND400,000 (US$20). Discounts are available for groups and locals.