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DIY mooncakes a trend during COVID-19 pandemic



During the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes become the most sought-after product in Vietnam as people enjoy the pleasure of gathering around with their family to drink tea and eat the square pastries. 

This year, due to the impact of the pandemic, many consumers are making mooncakes at home instead of buying them in stores.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes become the most sought-after product in Vietnam as people enjoy the pleasure of gathering around with their family to have tea and pastries. This year, due to the impact of the pandemic, many consumers are making mooncakes at home instead of buying them in stores.

Lockdown entertainment

Traditionally, the palm-sized pastries used to be round or square shape with a lotus pattern. During social distancing, home cooks have more time to get creative. They create mooncakes in all kinds of shape, including those of cartoon characters, oriental zodiacal animals or folk paintings. The most popular this year are round shapes with floral patterns.

A batch of home-made baked mooncakes — Photocourtesy of Phan Thu Hien

The tastes and flavours of the cakes have also become diverse. They used to be filled with lotus seeds, mung bean, Chinese sausages, pumpkin seeds and salted egg yolk, but now include cheese, durian, lava custard, and many more.

Nguyễn Quỳnh Chi, a young marketer living in Đà Nẵng, received hundreds of compliments after sharing pictures of her “stay-at-home” mooncakes on a Facebook group.

Chi combines a traditional mooncake mould and silicone flower moulds to create floral patterns and then binds them with corn syrup. The colours of the cakes are also created using bamboo charcoal powder, matcha and red yeast rice flour.

According to Chi, the best thing about making your own mooncakes is being able to adjust the sweetness, the filling and the shape of the cake yourself.

Staying at home and making your own mooncakes is also a way to relieve stress and fatigue during the ongoing pandemic, Chi said.

Fortune inscription Phúc – Lộc – Thọ (Happiness, Wealth and Longevity) on mooncakes — Photocourtesy of Do Thu Ha

Phan Thu Hien, a home-cook in Hà Nội, also started making mooncakes by herself this year due to the city-wide lockdown.

“I am concerned that queuing up to buy cakes will spread the disease and ordering pre-made cakes can be easily damaged or broken in transport. So I chose to make my own mooncakes at home to ensure health and safety for the whole family instead of buying them from the store,” Hiền said.

Hiền also proudly shared that DIY mooncakes have become her new hobby during the pandemic.

“At first, I tried using ingredients that are available in the kitchen such as eggs, milk, flour and nuts to make the cake. After being praised by family and relatives, my mooncakes have become much more creative. Making mooncakes for my loved ones has also become a new hobby for me,” she said.

Easy to buy ingredients 

During this time, many mooncake manufacturers have begun to transform their business models and sell ingredients online. Just by typing the keyword “mooncake ingredients” into Google, it will immediately return results on thousands of websites selling all kinds of tools and ingredients.

At a few stores on Shopee, a combo pack of ingredients for DIY mooncake includes sausages, sugar, cashews, dried zucchini, lotus jam, rice flour, five-spice powder, with prices ranging from VND100,000 – 175,000 per bag. Each bag can make about 15 cakes of 150g. Depending on the ingredients, the price of the “combo packages” will vary. Online stores also provided tools such as cake moulds, trays, packaging, rolling pins, ovens, enough for you to become a professional baker.

Since the city is under lockdown, Lê Phương Anh, 24, a lecturer living in Hà Nội, started buying ingredients on e-commerce platforms to make mooncakes by herself at home.

After watching a few tutorial videos as well as getting some tips online,  Anh easily finished her mooncakes.

Round mooncakes with floral patterns — Photocourtesy of Nguyen Quynh Chi

So excited and proud, she posted photos of her achievement on Facebook and received hundreds of comments praising the uniqueness of her “Tiramisu” flavoured mooncake.

Grasping the high demand, Facebook groups continuously post information about online mooncake making classes. Bakery owners also promote these courses by filming videos and posting on social networking sites such as Facebook, Youtube and TikTok to attract more participants.

Tiramisu flavoured mooncakes — Photocourtesy of Le Phuong Anh

After participating in an online mooncake making course, Do Thu Ha, a flight attendant, was able to make eye-catching cakes with fortune inscription: Phúc – Lộc – Thọ (Happiness, Wealth and Longevity) for her family and friends.

“Making your own cake at home is very simple and easy. This is an activity that brings me joy during the pandemic,” Hà said.

Source: VNS



Stone grinder collection tells part of Vietnamese culture



Hundreds of old stone mortars, millstones and grinders, of different sizes and shapes, are on display at a private museum in the mountainous district of Yen The in the northern province of Bac Giang.

Stone grinder collection tells part of Vietnamese culture
Hundreds of old stone mortars, millstones and grinders, and other farming tools seen at the private museum by Nguyen Dac Nong, a retired journalist. — VNA/VNS Photos Danh Lam

The collection has been accumulated over the past three decades by Nguyen Dac Nong, a retired journalist, who said that the objects were very common in the daily lives of Vietnamese people in the past.

“Our country’s history of development engaged in wet rice cultivation. People in the past used stone mortars and millstones to process their food from rice grain. Depended on their specific purposes, they used these stone objects to pound the rice grain to remove the husk, and grind rice into dried or wet flour. So, it can be said these items are part of our traditional culture – the Red River civilisation,” Nong said.

However, the weighty items were replaced gradually by other products made of lighter materials, or even electric appliances.

“Many people didn’t hesitate to throw away the items which became useless in their house. But in my mind, they are valuable items in terms of culture and history. I’m hurt when I see people treat the items as waste and just want to get rid of them,” said the 76-year-old man, who is former deputy director of Bac Giang Radio and Television.

Despite rain or shine, whenever he hears that there are people selling stone grinders in the region, the man has not hesitated to drive his old motorbike to purchase the items.

He was able to devote all his time to his hobby since he retired in 2007.

“I was very busy working at the provincial Radio and Television so I didn’t have enough time to hunt down the items. My collection grew since my retirement, because I can spend all my time seeking them out,” he said.

His collection features a large number of the stone mortars and millstones from different northern provinces such as Bac Giang, Hai Duong, Ha Nam and Nam Dinh. The ones made in the midland province of Thai Nguyen or mountainous province of Lang Son can also be found in his museum, which was set up in a northern-styled three-component house next to his own home.

Born and raised in a farming family in the district, Nong was taught traditional farming work.

“I followed my parents to work on our rice field when I was only five years old. And I became a buffalo boy when I was six years old. That’s why I have a special interest in farming tools and anything related to the simple life of ordinary peasants,” he said.

Stone grinder collection tells part of Vietnamese culture
Nguyen Dac Nong (4th left) seen together with a group of visitors at his private museum in Yen The District in Bac Giang Province.

Alongside the stone mortars and millstones, his museum is also home to hundreds of farming tools of farmers in the Red River Delta. Especially, his collection includes several farming tools of ethnic groups Thai, Tay, Nung and Cao Lan that he has collected during his “hunting trips” to northern mountainous provinces.

In addition, several items of war memorabilia can be found in the museum, including soldiers’ personal belongings, and an enamel cup that President Ho Chi Minh gave to each of the soldiers and officers in the Dien Bien Phu battlefield on the Lunar New Year in 1954 to praise their determination in the fight against the French.

Also on display is a bicycle used by commissariats to transport rice to the Dien Bien Phu battlefield.

Pieces of tree trunks embedded in the Bach Dang River to deter the invaders as the tide in the estuary receded during the historical battle between southern Han troops from China and ingenious Vietnamese troops led by legendary General Ngo Quyen in 938 can also be found in Nong’s museum.

Stone grinder collection tells part of Vietnamese culture
Although Nong has collected the items for decades, but his hobby hasn’t been supported by many other people, including his family members.

Although Nong has collected the items for decades, his hobby hasn’t been supported by many other people, including his family members.

“People think that I am a weirdo, while my family members said that I waste my money on useless items. But I don’t care what they think about me. I just care about how to preserve cultural and historical values. To collect and keep them in my small museum, it’s my way of preservation,” he said.

Before the closure at the end of April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his museum has been visited by groups of school students in the province. He hopes that the gallery, which re-opened last week, is a worthy place to visit not only for school students, but also all kinds of visitors who want to learn a bit about the Vietnamese culture and history.

Source: Vietnam News


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Việt Nam’s futsal world cup ends with a 3-2 loss to Russia




Việt Nam player Nguyễn Đắc Huy (centre) celebrates his goal against Russia. Photo

HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam are out of the Futsal World Cup after they were beaten by old foes Russia 3-2 in the last eight of the knock out stages in Vilnious, Lithuania.

They matched their historic performance from Colombia five years ago when once again they fell at the hands of the same opponent at exactly the same stage.

But this time it was by the narrowest of margins compared to the 7-0 drubbing dished out by Russia five years ago.

Việt Nam can take pride in their futsal heroics on the world stage.

They are the only team from Asia to have made the last eight not once, but twice in consecutive tournaments.

Russia will have clearly done the homework and studied Việt Nam’s performances against stronger opposition, knowing full well the Golden Warriors would not fold easily.

Victory against Panama in the group stages, and a well-earned draw with the Czech Republic were enough to see Việt Nam go through against teams considered stronger opponents.

The match began with 2016 silver medalists Russia on the attack.  Yanar Asadov, Artem Antoshkin, Sergei Abramov and Danil Davydov continuously all tested Vietnamese keeper Hồ Văn Ý.

But Ý proved why he was voted world top 10 keeper of 2018 denying all of their early attempts.

Eventually though the pressure paid off and Robinho broke the deadlock in the 11th minute with a close-range tap in to Ý’s left corner. Ý tried to narrow Robinho’s angle but he could not block the rapid low finish of the Brazilian-born player.

Việt Nam, playing with a strong defence, also had their chances on the counterattack through Nguyễn Văn Hiếu, one of five best young players of the tournament, and Nguyễn Đắc Huy, who could not practise the day before because of his foot injury.

Russia made it 2-0 in the 17th minute when Ivan Chishkala netted after taking the ball from a sideline kick.

Just 20 seconds after Russia’s second goal, Huy narrowed the lead to 2-1. The 30-year-old forward received a perfect pass from Nhan Gia Hưng, the youngest player on the team, from the right wing and made no mistake to score with a header from close range.

Artem Niiazov and Abramov continued to threaten Việt Nam’s net in the beginning of the second half. They overcame Việt Nam’s players but were denied by both posts.

Their tireless attempts paid off on 29 minutes when Chishkala attacked on the left wing and his shot past both Minh Tri and keeper Y to find the net. It was his second goal of the game and fifth of the tournament

Pham Đức Hòa of Việt Nam scores his team’s second goal in the 3-2 defeat to Russia. Photo

Việt Nam, whose head coach Phạm Minh Giang could not take charge because of his positive result for COVID-19 before kick off, found less chances as the half moved to power-play style in the last seven minutes of the match. And it paid off in the 38th minute when Phạm Đức Hòa took the ball in the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot to narrow the gap once more.

In the closing stages, the team in red piled on the pressure but couldn’t find the net and the match finished 3-2 to Russia.

“We played this match for our teammate Vũ Đức Tùng (who suffered heavy injury from the previous match) and our great supporters,” said striker Huy after the match.

“We did everything we could and I believe that we have made big steps on the world stage.”

Meanwhile skipper Trần Văn Vũ who returned to game after being sidelined last match said despite the loss, it was a great performance by Việt Nam.

He also agreed that Việt Nam played better than in 2016 because they had far more experience.

Former national captain Nguyễn Bảo Quân said he was proud with what his successors did in Lithuania.

“They have good tactics, almost no individual mistakes, scored more goals and they were unlucky not to draw level with Russia near the end,” said Quân.

“Russia played with caution against Việt Nam as they saw the way the Southeast Asian team played against Panama and the Czech Republic.”

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed this year event, and Việt Nam will have a chance to bounce back in 2024.

No venue has been chosen yet to host the next World Cup, but India, Morocco, Mexico, the US, Guatemala and Russia have all expressed interest.

One thing’s for sure, after midfielder Hiếu was selected as one of the best five young players at this World Cup, Việt Nam know they have a good chance to go further if Hiếu develops with the rest of the squad over the next three years.


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Việt Nam in Group B of AFF Cup 2020




Việt Nam celebrate winning the AFF Cup 2018. Việt Nam have been drawn in Group B for the rescheduled AFF Cup 2020. Photo


HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam have discovered who they will face as they begin their defence of the AFF Cup.

They have been drawn in Group B and will play Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos after the draw was made by the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) in Singapore yesterday.

Group A consists of Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei or Timor Leste.

The play-off match for the final place between Timor Leste and Brunei will take place on December 1. The draw saw Timor Leste confirmed as the away team in the one-off game.

Last year, the AFF decided to postpone the AFF Cup 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19 but now it is rescheduled to be held from December 5, 2021 to January 1, 2022.

Currently, the AFF is still actively working with member federations and co-operative units to decide on a neutral venue for the tournament.

Khiev Sameth, AFF’s chairman said at the draw it is a special event for all. This is the time when people overcome the coronavirus pandemic and bring to the audience impressive performances of the players, he said. 

The event will offer good matches, but it also must ensure the health of the players and participants in the event. 

In the group stage, the first and second-placed teams in each group will advance to two-legged semi-finals.

The two winners of the semi-finals will compete in the first leg’s on December 29, 2021 and the second leg’s on January 1, 2022.

In the 2018 tournament, Thailand were the defending champions, but lost to Malaysia in the semi-finals.

Việt Nam won the tournament after a 3–2 victory over two legs in the final against Malaysia to secure their second title. 

Nguyễn Quang Hải was voted player of the tournament, his three goals helped lift the trophy.

In the first leg of the final, Việt Nam drew 2-2 with Malaysia at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur.

In the return leg at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium a six minute strike from Nguyễn Anh Đức was enough to secure the victory. 


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