The traditional dessert that holds a special place in my heart, Tangyuan.

By Cheuk Hei Ng

If someone asked me what my favorite cuisine from my country is, it would be one of the most traditional Chinese desserts, Tangyuan.

In the Chinese traditional culture, we usually have tangyuan during the mid-autumn festival and the night before Chinese New Year, or at the winter solstice, the “Dongzhi festival”. It could also be served during weddings or family gatherings.

When I was younger, I was curious about this specific Chinese dessert, and I asked my mum why we must eat tangyuan every year during these festivals.

My mum told me as she smiles gently, saying that the name tangyuan means “union”, which symbolizes the union and completeness of families.

The ingredients of tangyuan include rice dough wrapped with sweets inside such as red beans, peanuts or sesame paste, which the sugary soup of the dessert contains boiled ginger and sweet potatoes.

The combined taste of the sweetness of both the soup and the tangyuan enhances the feeling of warmth within family connections and bonding, which is perfect to serve at family reunions and gatherings during festivals.

Ever since I started living alone overseas for my studies in Australia, I really felt a sense of loneliness and emptiness as I am being separated from my family for a long period of time. Whenever I had the opportunity to visit my family during semester breaks and vacations, my mum would serve us tangyuan after my long flight and dinner. My family will always welcome me with a delighted and loving attitude after my long and tiring flight back to Hong Kong. Whenever I arrive home, they will greet and hug me tightly while embracing me in their arms. After a heart-filling dinner, my mum would always serve everyone a bowl of tangyuan as we chat and laugh throughout the night.

Although it may be just a simple dessert that I and my family enjoy every year, it holds a special meaning in my heart as I felt a genuine warmth and unity when I am with my family after being separated for a long period of time.

Tangyuan will always hold a special place within my heart, just like my family, forever and always.