Long lines form for Lantern Festival delicacy

Updated: 2011-02-18 08:15

By Yang Yijun (China Daily)

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Long lines form for Lantern Festival delicacy
Inmates of a women's prison in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, reunite on Thursday with their loved ones who serve terms at Yuzhong Prison, which mainly holds male convicts. The meeting was organized by the two prisons to mark the Lantern Festival. [Wang Song / Xinhua]

Shanghai - Chinese New Year festivities came to an end on Thursday with the Lantern Festival, as residents across China celebrated the occasion with the traditional delicacy yuanxiao.

In Shanghai, people waited for hours on Thursday to buy the festive dumpling that is made of boiled glutinous rice balls with stuffing. The delicacy is called tangyuan in the south.

At noon, outside the Meixin restaurant, one of local residents' favorites, people were waiting in a 20-meter line for the takeaway dumplings.

"We sell about 100,000 tangyuan every day as the Lantern Festival draws near," said Xue Qiyong, the restaurant's manager.

But it's too hard - and busy - to calculate the number on Thursday because of the large number of customers. The earliest customer arrived at about 5 am, he added.

To meet the huge demand, five chefs started to prepare the handmade delicacy at 5 am on Thursday.

"It takes at least five hours for customers to buy the dumplings on these two days, while it takes at most one hour on regular days," Xue said.

In Beijing, yuanxiao is popular in particular at renowned chain stores.

A manager, who didn't want to be named, with Dao Xiang Cun, a brand renowned for making traditional food, said his workers produced an extra 230,000 kg of yuanxiao by working overtime during the festival because the original planned 1 million kg were still short of demand.

In the company's Madian store, consumers have had to wait in lines to buy the popular handmade yuanxiao for the past three weeks. The store sold an average of 750 kg of yuanxiao a day in the first lunar month up to Thursday.

Xie Shoucai, a 51-year-old Beijing resident, was one of the buyers at the shop who was anxious to take the delicacy home for a reunion celebration with his family. He said yuanxiao is a must for the festival.

In Guangzhou, people tend to celebrate the festival with new stuffings.

Fruit stuffings of several types, labeled as low-calorie and healthy compared with the traditional sesame and peanut stuffings, hit the market before the Lantern Festival.

Balls with strawberry stuffing were the most popular at a major supermarket in Tianhe district. Stuffings made of pineapple, blueberry, peach and kiwi fruit was also available, said a salesperson at the supermarket.

Fang Lexuan, 21, bought a pack of blueberry glutinous rice balls when shopping with his mother. "They seemed special to me and are not as oily as the traditional ones," he said.

Qiu Bo and Li Wenfang contributed to this story

China Daily


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