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Home Chinese Cuisine Chongyang Cake
Chongyang Cake
Learn Chinese - Chinese Cuisine
On the day of Chongyang Festival, one traditional activity is to climb mountains. However, mountains are not everywhere for people to climb. Therefore, for those people who live in flat regions far from any mountain, the problem is solved by going for a picnic and eating cakes. The Chinese word for cake is Gao, a homonym of the Chinese word for high. Mountains are high, so eating cake can, by a stretch of the imagination, take the place of going for a climb.

The tradition of eating cakes in September is originated from the ancient times. Though the name of "Gao" started from the Six Dynasties, the cakes had already existed in Han Dynasty, which was called "Er" in Chinese at that time. It is made of rice flour, which is classified into two types: paddy rice flour and millet rice four. They are streamed together, which is named "Er". In September, the millet is ripe. It is regarded as the food just in season, which is offered to ancestors as sacrifices. Chongyang Cake comes from the food just in season in September. That is why Chongyang Cake is recommended for offering sacrifices to ancestors on the day of Chongyang Festival.

In the Six Dynasties, cakes become the food for the season as the tradition Chongyang Festival is formed with the promotion of mountain-climbing activity. As the cakes appear in different forms, Chongyang Cake was also called Hua (Colorful) Cake after the Ming & Qing Dynasty and became the food for the season in urban and rural areas. Hua Cake is divided into Unpolished Hua Cake, Refined Hua Cake and Gold Coin Hua Cake. Unpolished Hua Cake is marked with caraway leaves, sandwiched with date, peach kernel and other unpolished dry fruits. Refined Hua Cake is made in either two or three layers, with each sandwiched with refined glazed fruits, such as preserved apple, peach and apricot. Gold Coin Hua Cake is similar in shape with Refined Hua Cake but relatively smaller, like gold coins, most of which are gifts for high-level officials.

重阳糕

在重阳节这天,人们有登高爬山的习惯,而不是每一处地方都有山可登,住在平原地区的人,便无法登高了。于是有些人就用做糕、吃糕来代替登高了。在中文里,因为“糕”和“高”同音,而吃"糕"的引申含义就可以替代"登高"。

九月食糕的习俗起源很早,"糕"之名,虽然起于六朝之末,但糕类食品在汉朝时即已出现,当时称为"饵"。饵的原料是米粉,米粉有稻米粉与黍米粉两种,二者和合,"合蒸曰饵"。黍为五谷之长,黍在古代是待客与祭祀的佳品。九月,黍谷成熟,人们以黍米为应时的尝新食品。因此,首先以黍祭享先人。重阳糕的前身就是九月的尝新食品。这也就是后世民间在重阳节,以重阳糕荐神祭祖的秋祭习俗渊源。 六朝时期登高古俗得到光大,重阳节俗形成,糕类自然成为节令食品。由于糕面有多种装饰,重阳糕在明清以后又多称为"花糕"。重阳花糕成为都市、乡村的应节食品。花糕主要有"糙花糕"、"细花糕"和"金钱花糕"。"糙花糕"粘些香菜叶以为标志,中间夹上小枣、核桃仁之类的糙干果;细花糕有3层、2层不等,每层中间都夹有较细的蜜饯干果,如苹果脯、桃脯、杏脯之类;金钱花糕与细花糕基本同样,但个儿较小,如同"金钱"一般,多是上层府第贵族的食品。
 

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