Friday, 17/08/2018 11:33

Make your own traditional cakes in Cần Thơ

Friends from far: An increasing number of foreign tourists have visited Son Islet in Can Tho Province since community-based tourism was introduced to the area. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Liem
Viet Nam News

By Thanh Liem

At Phan Kim Ngan’s house, visitors can make their own local traditional cakes and enjoy a buffet consisting of nearly 50 kinds of cakes. Ngan’s is one of many households offering community-based tourism services on Con Son or Son Islet, located in Binh Thuy District in the southern city of Can Tho.

Nguyen Thu Lieu’s family from the northern city of Hai Phong visited Ngan’s house during their three-day trip to Can Tho Province in early July.

“We arrived at the islet during a rainy spell so we could not visit all the places that we had planned to, but we still enjoyed our trip and had fun making our own cakes here,” said Lieu, after pouring powder into a mould to make kep cuon (egg roll with black seasame) – Ngan’s dish that won a silver medal at the fifth southern traditional cakes festival in 2016.

Matriarch: The family of local Phan Kim Ngan (second from right) welcomes around 80 tourists who wish to try making local traditional cakes a day. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Liem

Her cake-making process is entirely manual and traditional. It demands meticulous skill, which many tourists find challenging but fascinating.

Every day, Ngan’s family welcomes around 80 tourists who wish to try making local traditional cakes under her guidance.

Over her 40 years of making southern traditional cakes, Ngan has always tried to preserve their original taste and traditional methods of preparation. She personally makes 50 kinds of cakes to serve tourists.

Since 2015, her family and 17 other households on Con Son Islet have offered community-based tourism experiences. Ngan’s home has also been included on the lists of must-visit destinations on the islet.

Try your hand: Tasting and making their own southern traditional cakes are exciting experiences for tourists to Son Islet in Can Tho City. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Liem

Community-based tourism has offered her family more stable income, but the 53-year-old host hasn’t changed her lifestyle much. Wearing a loose-fitting blouse – the typical southern Vietnamese women’s shirt – and a bandana, Ngan enthusiastically instructs tourists on how to make cakes and tells the origin story of each cake.

Ngan is now the head of the club gathering all area households involved in community-based tourism. In the upcoming years, the club plans to eliminate plastic bags in tourism activities in order to contribute to environmental protection.

Local specialty: Son Islet boasts a variety of eye-catching and delicious southern traditional cakes. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Liem

Preserve national character

The model of community tourism was first introduced to Con Son in September 2016 by the local department of Culture-Information with the principle of non-competition, meaning that each household specialises in certain kinds of cakes. For example, Phan Thi Kim Phuoc’s family will make in cakes, which are made of flour, green beans and and stamped with an auspicious Sino-Vietnamese character such as Tho for long life. Ngan’s will make lot cakes with flour, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. Nguyen Thi Ut’s household will focus on xeo (sizzling) pancakes made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder and meat and served with fresh vegetables.

Tourists to Con Son contact the households whose cakes they’d like to try ahead of time. By the time they arrive, the dishes they wish to taste will be ready and brought to the household where they are staying.

Other farming activities that tourists can experience when they visit the island include bailing out the water from the pond, observing snakeheads flying off the water, rowing boats along narrow canals and harvesting fruits like rambutan and pomelo. They can also join their host to cook southern specialties like mam or snail hotpot.

Piece of cake: A tourist has fun making cakes at Phan Kim Ngan’s house – one of many households offering a community-based tourism service in Con Son Islet. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Liem

According to Phan Thi Nguyet, the vice chairwoman of Binh Thuy District’s People’s Committee, the community-based tourism of Con Son Island will be developed along with the preservation of natural surroundings and local cultural identities.

In the years to come, the local authorities will implement and incentives for households offering community-based tourism service. The first members of Con Son tourism club will be provided with favourable conditions for working and improving their tourism services, she added.

Noting that Con Son tourism has resulted from the cooperation among neighbourhood residents, as well as their joint efforts in preserving traditional cultural values, Le Van Tam, the vice chairman of Can Tho City’s People’s Committee affirmed that Con Son has become a tourism hotspot of the city, which needs to be promoted and expanded. — VNS


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