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Tell the Difference Between Real and Fake Zongzi For Dragon Boat Festival

Posted: 05/29/2014 7:49 pm

zongzi real fake While I’m forced to indulge in my secret love of the universally panned mooncake in a darkened room during Mid-Autumn Festival all by myself, Dragon Boat Festival is the carefree holiday of the zongzi (粽子 zòngzi), a glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in leaves. Only a summer holiday like Dragon Boat Festival can have two festive foods and encourage a playful rivalry over which is the superior one: Team Salty or Team Sweet.

However, as Chinese relive an early millennial fad of the Great Zongzi War of Salty Vs Sweet, we need to remind readers that yes, like every other food in China, there are counterfeit versions that you should avoid at all costs.

zongzi real fake

As you enjoy your short vacation, here are the ways to differentiate between a real zongzi (seen above to the right) and a fake one (left):

  • zongzi that look especially green may have had their leaves dipped in chemicals during the soaking process. The typical chemical additives used are industrial copper sulfate (CuSO4) and copper chloride
  • as seen in the picture above, the leaves of the fake zongzi look unnaturally green. It looks unrealistic in the same way people’s skin looks unrealistic in skin care commercials or on clips of old Max Headroom episodes
  • when steaming regular zongzi, the color of the leaves will darken and get yellow, and the water below will become a light yellow
  • fake zongzi will have a sulphuric smell when cooked, and the water below will turn green like its leaves

We’re sure most people can tell the difference; after all, people lose their appetite when their kitchen smells like the Eye of Sauron. But then, advertisements and pictures on the internet may lead people to have certain expectations on what a zongzi looks like. For example, would you eat this?

zongzi real fake

Happy Dragon Boat Festival, everyone. Make Qu Yuan proud.

Photos: NMG News, XDKB, Sipac


When to catch the best view of the full moon tonight

Posted: 09/19/2013 10:00 am

It is a mid-autumn festival tradition to stare at the full moon and think of one’s family members if you can’t be with them as the word for “round” sounds similar to the word for “reunion.”

According to Wuyang Planetarium, the best time at which to watch the moon in Guangzhou and Shenzhen is 26 minutes past midnight, as that is when it will be at its highest and brightest.

The moon will be seen rising from the east at 6:12pm today. It will be in line with the sun and earth at 7:13 and it will go down in the west at 6:45 in the morning.

Mid-autumn is the second most important festival in China and traditional dishes for the occasion include moon cakes, boiled taro, fruit, and peanuts. Other popular activities include going to the temple to burn joss sticks and recite prayers.


Beware! Chaos expected at Hong Kong border during 8-day holiday

Posted: 09/28/2012 1:00 pm

As this year the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Holiday are rolled into one, more than 5 million travellers are expected to cross the border during the double-holiday, which is an average of 640,000 a day, according to Shenzhen Daily.

This is an 11-percent increase on last year.

Monday and Tuesday are expected to see the highest number of Hong Kong-bound travelers, with over 720,000 entering the SAR from Shenzhen on Tuesday.

Daily peak hours will occur between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.and the Futian and Shenzhen Bay checkpoints will be particularly busy.

All checkpoints will have additional staff on duty to handle the influx and travelers can dial 8449-6666 for checkpoint information.

Meanwhile Futian Transport Hub has opened several new bus services according to the paper.

Mainland passengers traveling to Hong Kong from the PRD or Guangxi can now take a direct bus from the Futian terminal to Hong Kong International Airport, Tsim Sha Tsui, Prince Edward and Tsuen Wan.

Travelers also can check in for flights departing from Hong Kong at the Futian terminal.


China’s fruitcake: the unwanted, unloved, and frequently repackaged mooncake

Posted: 09/12/2011 2:43 pm

It’s officially Mid-Autumn festival tonight, and everybody has (or should have) the day off today. It could be argued that Mid-Autumn Festival is the second biggest festival on the Chinese calendar behind the Spring Festival. Like wetern holidays (think turkey at Thanksgiving), Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by eating a specific kind of food: the ubiquitous mooncake.

Surely nearly everyone reading this has tried a mooncake, and probably a small percentage of you actually like them. Which brings me to this article written by Tony Wong in the Toronto Star. Despite his ethnically-Chinese background, Wong says the moon cakes are, well, gross:

I believe we are the only culture that thinks putting a whole preserved salted egg in a pastry filled with lotus seed, red bean paste and a touch of lard could be called a treat.

And so, kudos to us, because if we can create a dessert out of salted duck egg, then it is only a matter of time before China really rules the world. Spaghetti and fireworks were just the start.

I know there are many of you out there who will write me semi-threatening letters saying that you actually like mooncake. And worse, that I’ve betrayed my ethnicity by even considering the notion that mooncakes are not yummy.

Mooncakes are the Chinese equivalent of the fruitcake. People give them as gifts because they’re obligated to, and then wind up eating a thousand calories of red bean paste.

Keeping with the ‘fruitcake’ comparison, the LA Times gives us other reasons to avoid eating the treat than just the taste:

Back in the era of scarcity, they were a rare calorie-rich treat to fill the chronically hungry belly. Nowadays, the mooncake has become the Christmas fruitcake of China, passed around and regifted ad infinitum.

A typical 6.3-ounce mooncake has about 800 calories. By contrast, a McDonald’s hot fudge sundae, which weighs the same, has only 330 calories.

Strangely enough, despite the calorific overload, this correspondent doesn’t particularly mind the mooncake, although the ones with lotus paste or egg custard are the preferred variety. We’d never go out of our way to actually *buy* them, though, unless we were passing them off to colleagues, clients or relatives. Because really, who buys mooncakes for themselves?

Regardless, Mid-Autumn Festival without mooncakes just wouldn’t be the same. So go out tonight, indulge, and enjoy. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!




Double-check that mooncake: 8,000 boxes of fake mooncakes found in Guangzhou

Posted: 09/6/2011 11:58 am

Story by Nanfang Reporter Ellen Wang

China is the wonderful home to the world’s great fake products, but when forgery moves into the food arena, one should be very concerned. With Mid-Autumn festival right around the corner, people have taken to faking the ubiquitous mooncake to make a quick buck. This story is translated from the Southern Metropolis Daily.

Eight thousand boxes of fake mooncakes tracked down in Guangzhou

As Mid-autumn Festival, one of China’s most favored traditional feasts, is on its way, mooncakes are taking up more of people’s attention and appetites. It’s also a time when lawbreakers have the strongest incentive to step in and make some dirty money.

In the morning of September 3, a batch of fake mooncakes branded with the name “Guangzhou Restaurant,” a famous local food chain, was hunted down by the local police and commerce bureau in Guangzhou’s Liwan District.

The police arrested every suspect involved in this case.

This batch of fake mooncakes, involving over 8,000 boxes with a total value of about RMB1 million, is the biggest case of fake mooncakes related to Guangzhou Restaurant ever discovered.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the packaging of the counterfeits was very close to the genuine ones, complete with the redeem vouchers stuck to the outside. But one can not track down any production or distribution information through the bar code on them.

So, a friendly reminder from Guangzhou Restaurant: for the sake of your health, purchase only from merchants with a good credit.


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