Tag Archives: Asian

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Today is the Chinese’s Mid-Autumn Festival! This is the day where Chinese have family reunion and celebrate the traditional harvest day.

This event have been celebrated by Chinese for over 3000 years – started in the Shang Dynasty. It became popular and was spread throughout many parts of Asia (East Asia to be exact). We usually eat mooncakes, lit up lanterns, and watch the moon at this time of the year. If you live in a city full of Chinese, you will usually see dragon dances going around and in the past with firecracker and fireworks – before it was banned.

Chinese traditional mooncakes looks like this:

It has a somewhat thick skin containing salt duck egg yolks lotus seed paste. For me, it is kind of greasy, which I don’t really like. Despite that I am Chinese, I don’t really like eating it at all. Well tradition is tradition, I still usually take 1/4 of it.

In other countries, it may be referred as the Moon Festival or Lantern Festival. Lanterns are another aspect of the festival. When I was a kid, we usually buy those paper folded lanterns and place a tiny candle inside litting it up. It comes with many varieties of patterns and design. Some are big and some are small, while others have unique and unusual shapes.

The festival is actually a moon worshipping event for us. Because the moon is the main attraction of the event, many of the legends that we have about it are always retold during this day. We have tales of the Houyi, the archer that shot down nine suns and his wife Chang’e – where she was eventually “floated” to the moon when she ate the pills (like Pandora in Greek mythology). The Jade Rabbit that lives on the moon making elixirs (also found in Japanese and Korean culture), and the woodcutter Wu Gan – who was punished to the moon and was to cut down the Cherry tree with his axe. However, ever chop he make, the tree recovers and spring back to life instantly.

Back in China, this day will be celebrated with fireworks and lanterns (floating on the water, in people’s hand, and floating in mid-air). This is a big day – only second to Chinese New Year! So head out and enjoy!

Rice lovers: Should We Wash Our Rice?

“Should we wash our rice?” or “How many times do we need to wash it?”. Many of us rice lovers might have wonder about similar questions some point in life. On the process of finding information, I came across many different opinions on washing rice. Some say you do not need to, others say you do. There are even some that it is needed to wash multiple times!

Here are some views from different sources I came across – people I know, Internet, and reading materials – on the subject:

The YES:

Since my first time for cooking rice, I was taught that I should wash the rice thoroughly. Not just once, twice, but three times. I was told that those particles in the cloudy water are “chemicals” to make the rice look white. Some said it was fertilizer. It was said that by washing rice, you would get the dirt, chemicals, and unwanted things from your rice.

The NO:

After few years of washing rice, I started to wonder myself. Is it really necessary to wash my rice? First, I asked around the people that I know. Most of them told me that I should not wash it too thoroughly. Just a rinse is enough. They said: “by over washing it, you will wash away the proteins, minerals, and the good stuffs that are in it.”

So is there a correct answers to these questions? No. In fact, each methods of cooking rice is your own choice. Everybody has their own ways of doing things and own belief. Asian tends to tell people to wash rice, whereas it is different for others.

Another piece of information was about people adding nutrients back onto the rice in North America. These contain starch. This is probably why if you don’t wash your rice, the textures becomes stickier.

Chinese? Japanese? Korean? How to Tell the Differences?

If you are Asian like myself, I am sure that there was some point in your life you were mistaken as one of the three cultures – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Caucasian friends of mine have always told me that we look, talk, speak, and think the same. Aside from that, sometimes our similarity in traditions and cultures could confuse people too. There might be some truth to that, but apparently, we’re different in ways. The following are some differences that you can take note of. Some does not apply to ALL Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, but however, I hope it can help you a little for distinguishing.


(Chinese Korean, Korean Chinese, Japanese)

  1. The Language. All I hear is Ching Chong Chung.
    This really made me laugh when my housemate told me that. That’s all the sounds he hears from my entire conversation (which was in Cantonese – a dialect of Chinese). However Ching Chong Chung does resembles Cantonese, but it does not apply to Japanese, Korean, or Mandarin. Languages of the oriental nations does derives from a single or similar origin, but throughout millenniums it has diversified. Here’s some example in phonetic for saying “How are you” in each language respectively:

    Chinese (Cantonese) – Nay Ho Ma?
    Chinese (Mandarin) – Ni Hao Ma?
    Japanese ——— Ogenki desu ka?
    Korean ———– Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo?

  2. Bowing as a Custom.
    The Japanese might have been known for bowing more than any other Asian countries. Although not as formal as the Japanese, the Chinese and Korean also bow – either for respect, death, or apologies. In modern China, handshake is more likely to be used than bowing. However, the opposite for Japanese. Korean also bow as a greet to upperclassmen or elders.
  3. Eating Rice.
    One interesting that I learned from my Japanese and Korean friends were that we “eat” rice differently. I don’t mean we cook it differently, we make it all the same – with a rice cooker! 🙂 What I meant was how we put it in our mouth. The Chinese usually picks up the rice bowl and scoop rice into their mouth with a chopstick (used like a spoon). The Japanese picks up their bowl and “picks” rice bit by bit with their chopsticks, without having their mouth on their bowls. They find “scooping” to be impolite. The Korean “pick” rice like the Japanese, but does not lift up their bowl. I am not sure if this is true, but I am sure there is some truth to it.
  4. Chinese has Slanted Eyes, Korean has Rounder Faces, and Japanese are shorter.
    Although some of it might apply, but I have to say this is a stereotype for years. Eyes varies from different people, so the Chinese can’t possibly be all slanted eyes. There are long faces Korean that I know of. The average height of Japanese have rose over the years. Haha.. However I do find some are true.
  5. Cultures.
    In my opinion, Chinese have lost their cultural heritage since decades ago. You won’t see us Chinese wearing any traditional “Han” clothes anymore, you see jeans! However, this is not the case for the Japanese and Korean as they have their Kimono and Jeogori. As Asia becomes more in connect with the West, this perception is tend to change. Today, we see Japanese fashion becoming more Westernized. So is the Korean – in movies, songs, arts and pop cultures.

The points above are what I see and not really any indication of how to separate the 3 people apart. If you ask me whether I can distinguish between the 3, I would say no either. It is just like asking, “can you distinguish between English, Scottish, or Welsh? Or even American and Canadian? Not really. Well, hope I didn’t bored you! Enjoy!

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