|Four young men from each team make fire with straw. VNA/VNS Photos Minh Quyết
HÀ NỘI — In the quaint village of Thị Cấm in Nam Từ Liêm District, a culinary tradition unfolds each Lunar New Year.
On the eighth day of the new year, residents gather to participate in a rice cooking contest. This time-honoured event symbolises hope and well-wishes for prosperity and happiness in the whole year.
|The most unique feature of the competition is the rice cooking, which takes about half an hour to complete.
In a tale steeped in legend, General Phan Công of the 18th Hung King is said to have passed through Thị Cấm Village while leading his country to victory against the Chinese Shu dynasty. In a show of hospitality, the villagers gathered to offer rice to the victorious soldiers.
After his victory, Gen Phan Công was said to have stayed back in the village, imparting farming knowledge to the locals. In a display of gratitude, each New Year the villagers hold a rice cooking contest in their communal house, commemorating the village's patron saint.
|The contestants cook rice in a pot placed over a fire of straw and wood.
The competition begins with four young men sprinting towards the village's communal well to fetch water for their respective teams.
Esteemed village elders are the arbiters of this culinary showdown, evaluating the quality of the rice dishes produced by the four competing teams.
|The pots of cooked rice are retrieved from burning ashes after half an hour. The panel of judges then get to taste the rice and duly give awards to the winners.
Good rice is soft and fragrant. When the pot's cover is lifted, the fragrance of the rice should waft in the air. The process takes about half an hour. — VNS
|The rice-offering ritual is held before the village elders judge the winners.