|Black glutinous rice cake of the Giay (photo: dulich.laocai.vn)|
The Giay’s glutinous rice cakes have lozenge shape with two tapered ends. They also call it hump cake. The villagers say that they carefully choose materials to make good cakes. They pick the leaf wrap in the forest, sort out the best quality glutinous rice grown in their fields, and husk green beans. Mixed lean and fat pork is sliced and seasoned with many kinds of spices, including cardamom. Dexterous women carefully wrap the cake in leaves. The cake should have a nice lozenge shape and each slice should have three layers – rice, green beans, and pork.
Hoang Thi Bich, a villager in Luong Do, Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province says: "A nice cake should have a big hump and slightly tapered ends. Nicely wrapped cakes show the dexterity of their makers. Each time we offer incense, we place 7 cakes on the altar for 2 days."
Giay women wrap the cakes on a table and never put the cakes on their laps. The cakes are soaked in water for 3 to 4 hours before being boiled for about 10 hours. The first cakes taken from the stove are placed on the ancestral and land genie’s altars.
Puffed rice is a must-have at a party or New Year celebration. They select round, uniform grains of rice to make delicious puffed rice. Hoang A Mau, a Giay man living in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, says: "We mix boiled rice with rice powder so the grains don’t stick together. Then we gently press thin the grains and sun dry them to avoid molds. When we prepare the worshiping meals, we roast the grains and blend them with sugar."
Roasted rice blended with sugar is moulded by a big bowl. The cakes have the aroma of glutinous rice, molasses, and ginger.
Cakes made from glutinous rice powder are often served at New Year parties or given to relatives and friends as gifts. They begin making cakes 3 or 4 days before New Year’s Eve. Vi Thi Thanh lives in Luong Lao hamlet, Coc San commune. “Roasted glutinous rice is ground and blended with refined molasses. We roll the mixture into a well-kneaded dough. Then we shape the cakes using moulds or cups.”
The Giay have handed down their recipes for rice cakes from generation to generation as a cultural heritage of their group.
|The Giay ethnic group, which has about 38,000 people, lives mainly in Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, and Cao Bang provinces. They are called by different names such as Dang, Pau Thin, and Xa. Like other minorities of the Tay-Thai group, the Giay grow wet rice and raise domestic animals and fowls.|