Traditional Tet feasts made of clay

By Quynh Tran   January 29, 2021 | 06:38 pm GMT+7
Hobbyist Nguyen Tan Dat has created life-sized models of Vietnam's typical Tet dishes, hoping to remind people of fading family-oriented Tet customs.
For the past month, Dat in Saigons District 3 has been meticulously creating clay-made Tet meals popular across three regions of Vietnam. The northern, central and southern regions of the S-shaped country share the same holiday but have their own diverse culinary traditions as reflected in the collection of more than 20 different traditional Tet dishes. Over the past few years, Vietnams traditional Tet culture has been fading. Many young Vietnamese choose to travel instead of returning home and cooking with their families. Therefore, I have decided to make models of Tet dishes in tribute to old traditions, said Dat, focusing on painting his boiled chicken. Tet, Vietnams biggest holiday, peaks on Feb. 12 this year.

For the past month, Dat in Saigon's District 3 has been meticulously creating clay-made Tet meals popular across three regions of Vietnam. The northern, central and southern regions of the S-shaped country share the same holiday but have their own diverse culinary traditions as reflected in the collection of more than 20 different traditional Tet dishes.
"Vietnam's traditional Tet culture has been fading. Many young Vietnamese choose to travel instead of returning home and cooking with their families. Therefore, I have decided to make models of Tet dishes in tribute to old traditions," said Dat, focusing on painting his boiled chicken.
The Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet, Vietnam's biggest holiday, peaks on Feb. 12 this year.

A typical Tet meal in the north with rice, boiled chicken eaten with lime leaves, banh chung (glutinous rice cake), sticky rice, gio lua (Vietnamese sausage), pickled onions and thit dong (jellied pork).Even though he chose most popular dishes, Dat had to spend a lot of time researching and looking up details on each dish.

A typical Tet meal in the north with rice, boiled chicken eaten with lime leaves, banh chung (glutinous rice cake), sticky rice, gio lua (Vietnamese sausage), pickled onions and thit dong (jellied pork).
Even though he chose most popular dishes, Dat had to spend a lot of time researching and looking up details on each dish.

Boiled chicken is a must-have dish among New Year’s Eve offerings in the north. Besides Tet, it also appears during many other special occasions or festivals, he explained.It took Dat one day to shape, paint and dry the chicken.

"Boiled chicken is a must-have dish among New Year’s Eve offerings in the north. Besides Tet, it also appears during many other special occasions or festivals," he explained.
It took Dat one day to shape, paint and dry the chicken.

Square-shaped banh chung on a round plate.Dat said making banh chung was not hard but that it took a decent amount of time to shape the grains of rice and stick them together.

Square-shaped banh chung on a round plate.
Dat said making banh chung was not hard but that it took a decent amount of time to shape the grains of rice and stick them together.

A colorful meal from the central region with banh tet (elongated rice cake), boiled pork with sour pickled shrimp, gio lua (pork sausage) and boiled chicken.

A colorful meal from the central region with banh tet (elongated rice cake), boiled pork with sour pickled shrimp, pork sausage and boiled chicken.

Central and southern banh tet is the equivalent of northern banh chung.

Central and southern region banh tet is the equivalent of northern banh chung.

Tre (fermented pork and pigs skin wrapped in straw) and nem chua (fermented pork) are two popular dishes at Tet, especially in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and neighboring Da Nang City.

Tre (fermented pork and pig's skin wrapped in straw) and nem chua (fermented pork) are two popular dishes at Tet, especially in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and neighboring Da Nang City.

Central boiled pork, sour pickled shrimp and salad rolls.Dat’s life-sized dishes are put on real ceramic plates to ensure a realistic effect.

The central region's boiled pork, sour pickled shrimp and salad rolls.
Dat’s life-sized dishes are put on real ceramic plates to ensure a realistic effect.

A sunny Tet in the south with banh tet, caramelized pork with duck eggs, bitter melon soup, pickled onions and pickled bean sprouts.

A sunny Tet in the south with banh tet, caramelized pork with duck eggs, bitter melon soup, pickled onions and pickled bean sprouts.

Caramelized pork is the most difficult dish to make since Dat had to mix paints to create the brown colors for the sauce, eggs and meat.

Caramelized pork is the most difficult dish to make since Dat had to mix paints to create the brown colors for the sauce, eggs and meat.

Bitter melon soup symbolizes hopes for a lucky year ahead following past bitterness.

Bitter melon soup symbolizes hopes for a lucky year ahead following past bitterness.

Dat has created over 25 popular Vietnamese noodle soup dishes made of clay like crab noodles, Hanoi-style pho, Nha Trang fish noodles and Hue beef noodles. Some people asked to buy them but I want to keep them as house decorations. I will make samples of traditional handicrafts in the near future, and of other materials, he said.

Dat has created over 25 popular Vietnamese noodle soup dishes made of clay like crab noodles, Hanoi-style pho, Nha Trang fish noodles and Hue beef noodles.
"Some people asked to buy them but I want to keep them as house decorations. I will make samples of traditional handicrafts in the near future, and of other materials," he said.

 
 
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