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Giant Tet cake sets new record

Update: February, 03/2014 - 15:35
A girl poses for the camera by the 39-metre-long Banh Tet in the coastal city of Nha Trang on February 1. The giant cake was made as part of the numerous activities of Vietnamese people to celebrate the Lunar New Year. -- Photo tienphong.vn

HA NOI – The Vietnamese people create giant-size traditional Tet items as part of the numerous activities to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

One such item, a 39-metre-long Banh Tet (cylindrical Tet cake) made of glutinous rice has set a new record. On the second day of the New Year on February 1, thousands of tourists and the local people in the central coastal city of Nha Trang were amazed to see the longest-ever Banh Tet made by Yasaka - Saigon - Nhatrang Hotel.

This is the 11th consecutive year that the hotel has been making the record-size cake. In 2004, the hotel created a 29-metre Tet cake to mark the 29thanniversary of the national liberation (1975-2004).

This year, 20 skilled chefs started making the 860-kilogramme cake early in the morning, filling it with a variety of ingredients including peanuts, bananas, black and green beans and pork. After displaying it, the cake was cut and sold to the local people and tourists. Each one-metre portion of the cake was cut into 50 pieces, which were priced at VND60,000 (US$2.8) each. All proceeds went to charity.

Visitors buy the giant Banh Tet in Nha Trang on February 1. All proceeds went to charity. -- Photo tienphong.vn

The Banh Tet (Tet cake), a traditional cake popular in the south, is considered a variant of Banh Chung (square glutinous rice cake) which is more popular in the north. Both are made with sticky rice and filled with pork fat and beans seasoned with black pepper. However, the Tet cake is wrapped in banana leaves, while Chung cake is wrapped in dong (phrynium) leaves. As a result, the sticky rice takes on a pale green color and a slightly leafy flavour. Even though the cakes are available all year, they are still considered a New Year treat.

In 2007, a 2.6-tonne Chung cake was presented to the Hung Temple in the northern Phu Tho Province. To create such a huge cake, craftsmen used 1,100 kilogrammes of sticky rice, 300 kilogrammes of green beans and 200 kilogrammes of pork. The cake was cooked for three days and nights.

Giant fruit tray

The 14-metre-wide fruit tray was displayed during the festive holidays in the southern city of Cao Lanh in 2010. -- Photo tiin.vn

The previous years too have seen records being set on Tet by 54-metre-long parallel sentences and a giant fruit tray. Traditionally, a "Mam Ngu Qua" (fruit tray) placed on the ancestral altar during the Tet holiday symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese towards their ancestors, and also demonstrates their aspirations for health, prosperity, and happiness.

In the 2010 New Year, craftsman Tran Van Lam in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap made a giant tray containing five tonnes of fruits in time for Tet. The 14-metre-wide fruit tray was displayed during the festive holidays in front of the Van Mieu Park in Cao Lanh City.

In the middle of the fruit tray, a cereal-inlaid embossment of Chua Mot Cot (One Pillar Pagoda in Ha Noi Capital) flanked by two dragons was installed. The dragons' scales were made of 5,000 areca nuts and their bodies shaped from southern fruit specialties such as coconut, mango, tangerine, grape fruits and longan, among many others.

The fruit tray also included two parallel sentences made of fruits and cereals, which read, "Hà Nội 1.000 năm dâng hiến/Cao Lãnh trăm năm sen hồng", meaning Ha Noi, 1000 years of devotion/Cao Lanh, 100 years of pink lotus.

Parallel sentences for Tet

A pair of 54-metre-long parallel sentences were written on yellow silk cloth in 2010. -- Photo tiin.vn

A pair of 54-metre-long, 1.2-metre-wide parallel sentences were also written on yellow silk cloth in 2010. This has been named as the longest parallel sentences written so far. Each sentence consists of 50 letters of nom (old Vietnamese characters based on Chinese characters) and modern Vietnamese written by 50 calligraphers.

Calligraphy is a traditional activity among the Vietnamese people. The letters typically contain the wishes and hopes of the people for the New Year. – VNS

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