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Qingtian 'pounding' out New Year flavor

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: January 30, 2024 L M S


Villagers make niangao, a steamed glutinous rice cake, in Xikeng village, Qingtian county, Lishui, Zhejiang province. [Photo/Tide News]

With the New Year approaching, residents in Qingtian county, Lishui, Zhejiang province, are beginning to make niangao, a steamed glutinous rice cake eaten during the Chinese New Year.

Around 7 am, the rhythmic sound of pounding with a wooden mallet resonates from the cultural auditorium of Xikeng village in Qingtian. Following a series of pounding, the rice cakes in the stone mortar gradually become soft and sticky, filling the air with the fragrance of rice.

Making rice cakes is a long-standing tradition in Xikeng village to symbolize hope for a better life. For several days, more than 20 families gather to make rice cakes. From steaming the rice to pounding it in the mortar, shaping it into strips, and imprinting patterns, each step adheres to traditional methods.

"To make good rice cakes, we use the rice harvested after Frost's Descent (the 18th solar term of the year) and soak it for 24 hours, ensuring that the rice cakes won't stick to your teeth," explained rice cake maker Zhong Liuyan.

"We make six to eight hundred kilograms of rice cakes every day until the end of the lunar year," said Zhong Rongxian, Party secretary of the village. "The rice cakes are not only for our own families during the New Year, but also for entertaining guests and giving to relatives and friends."