Three day annual event celebrates Chinese culture
Summer is here and it’s time once again to say “ni hao” to your friends and neighbors at Hockessin’s Chinese American Community Center during the center’s annual Chinese Festival.
The theme for the three-day 2019 festival is a celebration of Chinese history, from antiquity to the present, according to festival chairman Naxin Cai.
“We’re showing the entire history of Chinese culture, but it’s in a series of small rooms,” Cai said. “So, we’ll try to do the entire history, with some displays and some interactive activities.”
Guests will be able to enjoy a variety of teas prepared the traditional way, learn to use and write Chinese characters, see cooking demos of typical dim sum cuisine, and even show off their vocal chops on the karaoke stage.
The festival will also feature cultural performances and demonstrations, including the Dragon and Lion dance, folk dancing, Tai Chi demos, Kung Fu.
Featured performer for 2019 is Chinese circus member and master juggler, Yang Xiao Di.
“It’s going to be great,” Cai said. “I know I am looking forward to that, for sure.”
PLENTY TO EAT
And of course, the festival food court will be serving authentic Chinese cuisine, including this year’s feature dish, Ma Po Tofu.
Described as a “bold, savory and spicy dish,” originating from the Sichuan Province in southwestern China, Ma Po is one of the top 10 favorite Chinese dishes served in America, according to CACC cooking club chairwoman Juliana Soo.
And while the dish is certainly spicy, a special Chinese pepper extract also gives Ma Po an aspect traditionally found in Sichuan cuisine called “mala,” or numbing spiciness.
“It actually makes your tongue and mouth numb, but it doesn’t affect the way you taste,” said CACC member Harriet Chow.
Soo will also prepare spring rolls, steamed dumplings, and other quick and easy foods as part of the CACC’s cooking club demos during the festival.
CHINESE WRITTEN LANGUAGE
The history and evolution of the Chinese written language takes center stage at this year’s festival, with a series of displays showing the changes over the centuries, including a number of original artifacts dating back hundreds of years.
This special exhibit explores the intertwined relationship between Chinese characters and 5,000 years of cultural history, demonstrating the anatomy, composition, and layout of Chinese characters express philosophical principals of cosmology, nature, humanity, society, family, ethics, and other cultural themes.
Looking ahead to what may be his last year as festival chairman, Cai said he hopes that guests walk away with a different and broadened view of Chinese people and their culture, after having experienced a day immersed in their traditions.
“That may sound vague, but really, it’s like a small version of China here,” Cai said. “You get a taste of the food, you get to see a Chinese show, you get to see our exhibition. But the most important thing is to have some fun.”
The CACC is a non-profit organization serving the greater Wilmington and Southeastern Pennsylvanian communities since 1982, with the goal of promoting the exchange and integration of Chinese and American cultures.
For more information, visit caccdelaware.org.