Festival honors steamed sticky rice tradition in Phu Gia

(VOVWORLD) - Every year on the 8th day of the first lunar month, Phu Gia villagers organize a festival to honor steamed sticky rice. Nobody knows exactly when the dish first became popular in Phu Gia village, which is now in Phu Thuong ward, Hanoi, but it was famous in the Thang Long Imperial Citadel and used to be a dish served to the King on the occasion of the Lunar New Year.
Festival honors steamed sticky rice tradition in Phu Gia - ảnh 1 Contestants pose with a tray of five-color sticky rice (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)

Phu Thuong ward has 3 ancient villages – Thuong Thuy village, also known as Bat village, Phu Gia village or Ga village, and Phu Xa village, also called Xu village. Steamed sticky rice is most popular in Phu Gia village.

The Phu Thuong steamed sticky rice festival opens with a welcoming performance of drums and a unicorn dance.

The festival’s highlight is a sticky rice competition in which 6 teams make trays of the sticky rice associated with the village’s culture. The contestants also draw lots to answer the jury’s questions. Hy Phu, head of the organizing board, said: “The festival coincides with the village tutelary god ritual which falls on the 8th, 9th, and 10th day of the first lunar month. The festival is held at the village’s communal house in the evening of the eighth day. Phu Gia has 6 hamlets, which provide the 6 teams for the competition. Each team has 5 members. Every year we award one special prize and a first prize. Everybody else gets a third prize. There are many kinds of steamed sticky rice but contestants only compete in cooking five-color sticky rice in one hour. Judging criteria include fastest time and best presentation. As part of the festival, folk games like Chinese chess and a draw-and-discard card game are organized.”

Festival honors steamed sticky rice tradition in Phu Gia - ảnh 2 The opening ceremony of the Phu Thuong steamed sticky rice festival

The jury is comprised of experienced villagers. Cong Thi Be, a village elder with long professional experience and many previous years on the jury, said: “Festival goers want to share their experience, learn from each other, and show their gratitude to our ancestors for giving them a craft with which to earn a living. The steamed sticky rice should be displayed in an eye-catching way that ensure good food hygiene. After being judged, the rice is tasted by villagers and festival goers on the spot. Choosing the right ingredients is crucial to the dish. It is important to pick the high quality sticky rice. Our steamed rice is often cooked twice so to make it soft, aromatic, and delicious.”

On display at the festival are various kinds of steamed sticky rice and other popular dishes of nearby rural areas.

Villager Nguyen Hong Son said: “I’m proud to be a Phu Gia villager. I hope our product will become more popular and be sold everywhere.”

Festival honors steamed sticky rice tradition in Phu Gia - ảnh 3Phu Gia village’s variety of products (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5) 

Phu Thuong is widely reputed to have the best steamed sticky rice in Vietnam thanks to its special flavor, variety, and high-quality ingredients. Nearly 600 households in the village are engaged in the craft. Many people from Thanh Hoa, Bac Ninh, and Phu Tho provinces come to Phu Thuong to learn how to make the dish.

Hoang Gia Luong, President of the Phu Thuong Craft Village Association, said: “On a normal day the village cooks about 9 tons of glutinous rice. On holidays or full moon days, the volume is half again as much. Some households sell steamed sticky rice to hotels, restaurants, and Noi Bai Airport. Last year Phu Thuong was recognized as a traditional craft village cooking steamed sticky rice. This year the Phu Thuong ward People's Committee and the Craft Village Association will apply to the Hanoi Industry and Trade Department for recognition of the Phu Thuong steamed sticky rice brand.”