Gongs and Lanterns Ablaze! Welcome to the Year of the Dragon!
Today, on February 10th, 2024, we usher in the Lunar New Year and continue celebrations for sixteen days. This vibrant festival observed by millions around the world celebrates the Year of the Dragon, a majestic creature symbolizing power, ambition, and good fortune.
The festivities are already in full swing, bursting with colorful decorations, delectable feasts, and joyous reunions. The air thrums with the rhythm of firecrackers, lion dances, and enchanting melodies. From bustling megacities to quaint villages, the spirit of renewal and hope washes over communities, carrying wishes for prosperity, peace, and good health.
Whether you're joining a vibrant parade, savoring delectable dumplings, or exchanging red envelopes filled with blessings, embrace the magic of this special time. This year, the Year of the Dragon promises to be one filled with dynamism, courage, and the potential for great achievements.
Food will be part of every families’ celebration and though many of us would assume rice would be the centerpiece of meals, While rice may seem like the natural star of Lunar New Year feasts, a more surprising player steals the show in many families: the steamed sourdough bun. These fluffy, cloud-like wonders, made with just wheat flour, water, and sourdough starter, have graced tables for centuries, embodying tradition and carrying a unique Chinese sourdough heritage.
For over 2,000 years, Chinese bakers have relied on sourdough starters to cultivate distinct flavors and aromas in their steamed bread. Unlike their Western counterparts, these starters often involve additional ingredients like rice or glutinous rice flour, resulting in a subtle tang and texture different from European sourdoughs. As one source describes, "it is generally formulated with wheat flour, water and sourdough...and is steamed after fermentation.”
More than just a delicious bite, the steamed bun holds deep symbolic meaning in Chinese culture. Its round shape embodies completeness and wholeness, reflecting the desire for unity and family harmony during the Lunar New Year. The act of sharing and savoring these buns together reinforces the importance of communion and togetherness. Additionally, the fluffy, rising nature of the buns symbolizes prosperity and abundance, bringing hope for a year filled with growth and good fortune. Each bite, therefore, becomes a vessel for these cherished values, making the humble steamed bun a powerful symbol of the season's spirit.
2 Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou Recipe), China Sichuan Food—Chinese Recipes and Eating Culture
3 Tony Chiodo, “Steamed sourdough buns”at GoodFood.com