It all began with a great man named Qu Yuan;
Qu Yuan was a minister in the government of the state of Chu, descended of nobility and a champion of political loyalty and truth eager to maintain the Chu state's sovereignty. Qu Yuan advocated a policy of alliance with the other kingdoms of the period against the hegemonic state of Qin, which threatened to dominate them all. The Chu king, however, fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan, and banished his most loyal counselor. It is said that Qu Yuan returned first to his family's home town. In his exile, he spent much of this time collecting legends and rearranging folk odes while traveling the countryside, producing some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature while expressing his fervent love for his state and his deepest concern for its future. According to legend, his anxiety brought him to an increasingly troubled state of health; during his depression, he would often take walks near a certain well, during which he would look upon his reflection in the water and be his own person, thin and gaunt. In the legend, this well became known as the "Face Reflection Well." Today on a hillside in Xiangluping in Hubei province's Zigui, there is a well which is considered to be the original well from the time of Qu Yuan. In 278 BC, learning of the capture of his country's capital, Ying, by General Bai Qi of the state of Qin, Qu Yuan is said to have written the lengthy poem of lamentation called "Lament for Ying" and later to have waded into the Miluo river in today's Hunan Province holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era.
Local people, learning of his suicide, rushed out in their fishing boats to the middle of the river and desperately tried to save him, but were unsuccessful. In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles. They threw rice into the water as a food offering to Qu Yuan and to distract the fish away from his body. However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that the rice meant for him was being intercepted by a huge river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon. These packages became a traditional food known as zongzi, although the lumps of rice are now wrapped in bamboo leaves instead of silk. The act of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, which is held on the anniversary of his death every year. Today, people still eat rice dumplings and participate in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan's sacrifice on the Duan Wu festival, the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This year (2006) it is 31/5 in the solar calendar. (source: wikipedia)
The "zhongs" came out delicious! I left out a couple of things which I didn't like in zhong; such as the green beans and the salted egg yolk...they should be included for "zhongs" to be authentic, but *shrug* I'm making them to suit my liking! Pinky loved them too! My Russian taste tester didn't quite like it though...I guess the chinese flavours and ingredients in the glutinous rice require an acquired taste.
Im pretty proud of myself; the kitchen isn't in a mess, my "zhongs" didn't burst/leak in the boiling pot, they taste good and it's my very first time! It's pretty difficult sourcing the long list of ingredients (I had to shop hop from a long row of Asian stores to find everything) and wrapping them firm and corner-hole-free is pretty fiddly. I had them pressed against my belly as I tied them up with one hand!(haha I'm such a klutz) They don't look too pretty, and I made them small as I couldn't find any large bamboo sheets. I had to make do with medium sized ones. I guess it's a good idea to start small as well; less leakage *hint hint* haha. It was worth the whole 3 1/2 hours of work. Anyone want the recipe?...It's really lengthy and I'm feeling a tad bit lazy! Heh, I'll type it up if anyone's interested though. Leave a request on comments. Back to assignments now...*sigh* Tata!