VIENNA (XINHUA) – Zongzi, traditional Chinese food made of sticky rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in flat plant leaves, has lately become popular in an Italian restaurant in the centre of the Austrian capital.
Zongzi is a traditional and iconic food, which Chinese people enjoy on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival.
Pizzeria Don Giovanni, located near the magnificent Baroque palace of Belvedere, is operated by Wu Bing, a woman who came from Jiaxing in the southeastern coastal province of Zhejiang.
It had to be closed since mid-March as the Austrian government imposed a lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
From May 15, all restaurants have been allowed to resume business after the Alpine country eased COVID-19 restrictions.
“Although most restaurants have reopened, it seemed that people were not willing to come out for dinner yet,” Wu said to Xinhua.
As the Dragon Boat Festival was approaching, Wu came up with the idea of serving Jiaxing Zongzi, an iconic food named after her hometown and well-known for its typical filling of marinated meat, to help with the business.
Normally, people in southern parts of China like to eat salty Zongzi, having sticky rice with meat, salted yolk or even mushrooms and chestnuts while people in northern parts of China prefer the sweet variety, having sticky rice with red jujubes or red bean paste.
“Not only do Chinese people who live in Austria crave a bite of original Jiaxing Zongzi, but also are many local Austrian customers curious about it,” Wu told Xinhua. Zongzi sold for takeaway or delivery became so popular that Wu Bing taught pizza chef Subor Nuri and other Italian colleagues at Pizzeria Don Giovanni how to make Zongzi to keep up with the demand.
“It’s so delicious! I believe Italians would love it, as we have similar food too,” Hehges Danut, an Italian working at Wu’s restaurant told Xinhua after trying Zongzi for the first time in his life.
The popularity of Zongzi exceeds Wu’s expectations, as there has even been demand from Graz and other cities in Austria.
Having sold about 5,000 pieces of Zongzi in the last 20 days, Wu said that some customers suggested that she should use WeChat, a popular social media platform used by many Chinese, to keep selling Zongzi even after the Dragon Boat Festival.
“Many Chinese in Austria also bought Zongzi for their Austrian friends as a way to introduce to them the traditional Chinese culture,” she said. It is a pity that the annually-held dragon boat race on Danube River is cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Austrian photographer Harald Klemm told Xinhua.
“There was a dragon boat race sponsored by a radio station in Austria more than ten years ago. I was there to take pictures. That’s the first time I saw a real dragon boat in my life. It was so amazing,” Klemm said.
“Most Austrians have seen the dragon boat races on TV, and they know it’s from Asia, but not all of them have the idea that it’s from China,” he said.
Klemm never tasted Zongzi before, but his Chinese friends in Vienna had recommended the delicacy and he is eager to try it as soon as possible.