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Philosophy and history of basket cakes during Chinese New Year

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Philosophy and history of basket cakes during Chinese New Year

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Chinese New Year celebrations for the majority of people of Chinese descent are never separated from the typical and delicious dish called basket cake.

This cake, which has a sweet taste and a chewy and sticky texture, has a very meaningful meaning and philosophy for the Chinese people.

“This basket cake is made from sugar, sticky rice and also water. So, basket cake has a philosophy that is very close to our lives,” said the owner of Hoki basket cake, Kim Hinjauhari, who has been in this business since 1988, when we met him. in Sawangan, Depok, West Java, some time ago.

According to him, it is believed that the sweet taste produced from sugar will provide various positive things in life in the Chinese New Year, such as good fortune, much better relationships between people and family members.

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Meanwhile, the chewy and sticky texture is believed by the Chinese people to improve close relationships between family members, relatives and relatives.

With round dimensions, it is as if this cake wants to represent the integrity of relationships between people, including family, neighbors and the surrounding community so that they can always hold hands without having to put each other’s ego first.

While busy preparing various orders for consumers who placed orders online or contacted via short message, Jauhari said that the Chinese people’s habit during Chinese New Year is to order basket cakes to share with local people.

“We (Chinese people) who celebrate Chinese New Year believe in that,” he explained.

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Even so, according to Jauhari, this philosophy only applies during Chinese New Year celebrations. When basket cakes are not consumed during Chinese New Year celebrations, this philosophy no longer applies.

Academic point of view

Basket cake or Nian Gao is a real manifestation of the closeness of local residents and the Chinese community. According to Indonesian culinary history, the basket cake itself has been around since the 19th century.

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This sweet cake, which has a rich history in its past, is a symbol of harmony between Chinese society and Indonesian society. This is because there are various dishes which were later adopted as typical Indonesian dishes.

Starting from the taste and sticky texture, making this basket cake has several similarities with what was called Dodol in Javanese and Betawi communities at that time.

“From written and historical evidence, this cake began to appear in the 19th century. Many Peranakan Chinese families in Betawi and Java Island gave birth to it. home industry “This cake is for Chinese New Year celebrations,” said Historian at the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Padjadjaran University (FIB Unpad) Fadly Rahman when met at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Saturday.

According to existing history, Fadly confirmed that Chinese people really value symbols and strong beliefs. This also happens in the culinary world.

Therefore, he believes that this basket cake is a symbol of strengthening relationships between people. This can be seen because of the sticky texture of the cake which is a snack during Chinese New Year celebrations.

Indeed, the Chinese community itself has a rich diversity in their culinary history. Various adoptions emerged when they (the Chinese community) leaned towards the archipelago.

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Production of Hoki brand basket cakes in Depok, West Java. Cake Basket is a typical Chinese New Year snack. (ANTARA/Chairul Rohman)

The Chinese community at that time, not only brought religious, economic and cultural interests, they also brought various food commodities from their country of origin which have now become the daily diet of people in Indonesia.

“What is certain is that in the course of Indonesia’s culinary history, Chinese influences cannot be avoided. They introduced many food commodities that were cultivated in their country. So, now we know soybeans and their derivatives such as soy sauce, tofu and tauco,” he said. he.

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History of basket cakes

China Highlight on its official website explains several things regarding the origins of basket cakes. There is a legend which states that this basket cake is closely associated with the Kitchen God and the cake is a worship of these gods which the Chinese believe is in every home.

Many Chinese people believe that every year the Kitchen God will report various things to the Jade Emperor regarding the owner of the house where the God lives. To prevent the God from saying bad things, the owner of the house will offer a delicious and sticky basket cake. The goal was to keep the Kitchen God’s mouth tightly shut so he wouldn’t report bad things to the Jade Emperor.

The origins of the presence of basket cakes or Nian Gao are also told in the history of war in China which dates back 2,500 years. The story states that the origins of Nian Gao date back to the death of the politician and war general from the Wu Kingdom, Wu Zixu.

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Basket cake is a typical Chinese New Year snack. (ANTARA/Chairul Rohman)

After Wu died, the King of Yue named Goujian attacked the capital of the Wu Kingdom and caused many soldiers to be trapped inside the large walls of the city. The soldiers were starving, they had no food preparation and many soldiers later died of starvation.

The surviving soldiers then remembered the words of the late General Wu that if the soldiers needed food, they had to dig three feet deep into the edge of the city wall to get food. Then the remaining soldiers carried out the words that King Wu had said at that time. Apparently, the foundation of the city wall is a block made of sticky rice, so that the wall can stand firmly and stick to the ground. Sticky rice which became the foundation was what saved the lives of soldiers from starvation.

Therefore, basket cake or in Chinese is called Nian Gao, which during the Chinese New Year period is considered to bring good luck and various positive things.

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Editor: Maria Rosari Dwi Putri
Copyright © ANTARA 2024

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