The earthen cooking stove
White the earthen cooking stove is seldom used in modern day Vietnam, memories of the significant cultural symbol will never fade.
People have always taken lots of time and effort in preparing for Tet – the biggest holiday in the yearly calendar. Days before it arrives, all families spend time dusting ancestor altars and buffing the bronze items to a shine. Other tasks include staying awake all night waiting for the pot of “banh trung” to be cooked. Slaughtering a pig, cooking scented water to clean th house with or planting the Tet pole.
The Lunar New Year is a busy. It starts with Lunar New Year’s Eve, beginning with “le tru tich”, when a family ushers out the spirits of the previous year by putting a tray of fruits and burning incenses in font the house, According to folklore, he records the bad and good of every family and rides his carp back to Heaven every year to report to the Emperor.
The image of an earthen cooking stove is familiar with many Vietnamese but it is not just a simple cooking tool. It is considered the “reigning place” of the Kitchen God. Most would remember returning from school feeling hungry and rolling a few sweet potatoes into the ashes of the stove would warm souls, like recorded by poet Bang Viet when he wrote: “A cooking fire flicker under the morning dew. A cooking fire warms our hearts.”
Bit while it only takes a couple of bricks to create o cooking stove, few urban households use this “countryside” way of cooking. It lost its place some time ago in the flow of modern life which replaces things not comfortable or suitable enough.
The first modern cooking appliance to appear was the oil cooker, which enabled users to manage the flame and prevent it from spreading.
Mow, the gas cooker is popular but far less legendary and spiritual as that little earthen cooking stove.
In the old days, many even believed that strokes of bad fortune such as family illness or turbulent relationships can result from the Kitchen God’s anger, perhaps due to an unhygienic stove or animal waste in the kitchen. A ritual called “dong bep” once included cleaning household animals placing them next to the cooking stove, preparing a meal and dropping a piece of met near the former filthy spot. The meat would be picked up and someone would blow on it in the direction if the cooking stove.
Researcher Nguyen Du explained that the ritual was performed to blow evil out of the sick or troubled people. Rituals like highlight the significance of the earthen cooking stove in Vietnamese culture.
This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel
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