Rice Paper Craft Village in Can Tho: A Century-Old Legacy
Have you ever wondered where the delicate, flavorful rice paper in your favorite spring rolls comes from? How does a simple grain transform into a piece of culinary art? Let’s embark on a journey to explore the century-old rice paper craft village in Can Tho.
A Glimpse into the Past
Rice paper, holding a special place in the southern culinary landscape, carries a legacy akin to the celebrated Tay Ninh rice paper in the southeast and the Thuan Hung rice paper in the southwest Mekong Delta.
The Heartbeat of Can Tho: Thuan Hung
Established in the mid-1800s, the Thuan Hung craft village in Thot Not District is a testament to time. This craft of producing rice paper recently received the honor of being designated as an intangible cultural heritage. A feather in the cap, isn’t it?
Journey through Time: Tan An Hamlet
If you were to step into Tan An Hamlet, you’d be greeted with the enchanting sight of hand-rolled rice paper, drying under the sun, on racks crafted from coconut leaves. A serene picture of tradition mingling with nature.
The Art of Crafting Rice Paper
It’s not just about the rice. It’s about skill, tradition, and secrets passed down through generations.
From Grain to Paper: The Process
Did you know? The rice paper is crafted from rice flour produced in Thot Not and aged for around six months. As Duong Thi Cam Dung, an artisan, rightly points out, fresh rice can lead to a brittle texture, while older rice loses its sweetness. It’s a delicate balance!
Mastering the Spread
In the delicate art of rice paper-making, every step counts. Three people, working in perfect harmony, handle separate stages of the process. A small coconut shell determines the portion of the batter spread on a pan. One misstep? And the result is an uneven sheet, susceptible to cracks and tears.
The Traditional Steaming Technique
Ever noticed the transparency of rice paper? That’s the magic of steaming the batter on a cloth over simmering water. With rice husk stoves and a spatula made from coconut leaves, the Thuan Hung community stays rooted in tradition.
Drying with Precision
With the rice paper measuring precisely 40 centimeters in diameter, drying requires meticulous attention. The paper must retain some moisture to ensure flexibility. It’s a game against nature: protecting the delicate sheets from rain while ensuring they dry in a perfect round shape.
Varieties of Thuan Hung Rice Paper
From spicy chili-infused versions to sweet and aromatic coconut-flavored ones, the Thuan Hung village crafts six distinct varieties. Such diversity in flavor and form!
Crafting to Cater Everyone
Each variant, be it for spring rolls or dipped, resonates with the passion and craftsmanship of the Thuan Hung artisans. And guess what? These delights are now available across markets, stores, and even exported to Cambodia!
Legacy and Recognition
Carrying forward a two-century-old tradition isn’t easy. But approximately 100 households across four hamlets in Thuan Hung have kept the craft alive.
Handing Down Traditions
While a few have embraced modern techniques, the majority still believe in the power of hands and the warmth of tradition.
National Pride in Craftsmanship
It’s not just a village craft. It’s a testament to the dedication and passion of a community. As Khanh aptly mentioned, the recognition of the craft village as a national intangible cultural heritage has only instilled more pride and passion in the artisans.
Conclusion: The rice paper craft village in Can Tho, particularly in Thuan Hung, is a beautiful blend of tradition, skill, and cultural legacy. A visit here isn’t just about observing a craft; it’s about imbibing a culture and tasting history with every bite.
- When was Thuan Hung craft village established?
- In the mid-1800s.
- What was the honor recently bestowed upon the rice paper craft?
- It was designated as an intangible cultural heritage.
- How many varieties of rice paper are crafted in Thuan Hung?
- Six distinct varieties.
- Why is the rice aged for around six months?
- It ensures the paper doesn’t break apart when dipped and retains its crispness after baking.
- How long is the drying process for the rice paper?
- About 30 minutes, ensuring some moisture remains.