Phục Linh cakes are an ancient tradition of Huế, itself the ancient royal capital city of Việt Nam. My aunt brought me a couple of packages of the special treat from the Huế Imperial Palace during her Hà Nội visit last week.
The cake is sometimes made of green beans or sticky rice, but my aunt said bakers often used arrowroot flour, as this root has a naturally fragrant and characteristic flavour.
I’ve heard the name of the cake a long time ago, but this was the first time we got to enjoy the cake, which is square and a pure white colour.
“The cake is much more enjoyable when eaten with a cup of tea. It is suitable for all eaters, but particularly the elderly because it’s cool and good for the digestive system,” my aunt Vương Thị Hòa said.
Huế housewives are well known for their skill in making Phục Linh cakes to worship their ancestors during important anniversaries such as Tết (Lunar New Year festival) or wedding ceremonies, she said.
In the past, the cake was a speciality to offer to the kings of the Nguyễn dynasty between 1802-1945, she said, though one knows when the cake came into being or why it was called Phục Linh, a haughty and noble name.
Each cake is craved designs of the Huế imperial palace, imbued with ancient culture and traditional style of the Việt (now majority Kinh) people, Hòa told Việt Nam News. The process of baking the cake requires careful preparation and crafting. The traditional cake is made of arrowroot which is well-ground with yellow sugar, pandan leaves and fresh coconut juice.
The arrowroot flour should be roasted over a wooden fire with a regular stir. “It needs skilled hands to have a mix fragrant of the flour and characteristic of the fire. The cake must be pressed in a bronze frame to create the most beautiful and delicate form,” Hòa said.
The Phục Linh cake is not as available as it was in the past though Hòa is trying to preserve recipes to teach her children and grandchildren, so it can live on.
She said while she prefers to produce a white cake, modern bakers like to make colourful cakes of red, yellow, blue, brown and violet to meet increasing demands.
Overseas Vietnamese Dương Lệ Tĩnh from Los Angeles, a native of Huế, said she missed the cake so much. “I often ask my relatives to send me the cake. It gives me a feeling of closeness with our motherland and my birthplace that I could never forget.”
She said each time she enjoyed the cake a feeling of subtlety and remembrance of her happy childhood rushes back.
“I still remembered my childhood, when my mother would come back from the market. She would give me a cake that was sweet and cool with a slightly burnt smell of wooden fire. I love it so much.”
World-renowned boy band Westlife to perform in Vietnam in November
Irish boy band Westlife thrilled Vietnamese audiences on Tuesday night by revealing their plan to come back to Vietnam for a live concert scheduled for November 22.
The band wrote on their Facebook account that “Vietnam! We are so excited to be coming back with the Wild Dreams tour on 22nd November 2023.”
Their live concert will take place at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, according to their Facebook post.
Concert tickets will be put up for sale on Tuesday next week.
“Don’t miss out,” they told their fans.
|A photo of the members of Westlife when they are young. Photo: The Guardian|
Right after their announcement, the post received some 6,000 emotions, 1,500 comments, and over 1,000 shares from Facebook users.
Many fans commented that they were exhilarated and would go to the concert with their friends.
The boy band traveled to Vietnam for the first time to perform at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi in 2011, as part of their Westlife Gravity Tour.
Two years later, singer Shane Filan, main vocalist of Westlife, came to Ho Chi Minh City to perform at the You & Me Tour Live in Saigon show at 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street in District 4.
In 2017, Shane Filan made a comeback to Vietnam for his Love Always Tour. He sang his songs and many of Westlife’s greatest hits, such as Uptown girl, Beautiful in White, Tonight, and You Raise Me Up, at a stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Westlife was formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1998. The band consists of Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne. Brian McFadden, a member of the band, left in 2004.
The group disbanded in 2012, but reunited in 2018.
Westlife became popular with Vietnamese audiences in the 1990s and 2000s.
|Many Vietnamese fans express their excitement at Westlife’s comeback to Vietnam. Photo: The Irish Sun|
In Ireland, the group has 11 number-one albums, 16 number-one singles, and 34 top-fifty singles.
The band has sold 55 million records worldwide and holds four Guinness World Records.
Among their greatest hits are My love, I Lay My Love on You, Queen of My Heart, Seasons in the Sun, Mandy, Fool Again, Swear it Again, and When You Tell Me That You Love Me.
13th European – Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival to open in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Cinema fans will have the opportunity to enjoy free screenings of 19 documentary films at the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival, scheduled to take place from September 22 to 28 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
This year, the festival will present works from eight countries, including the UK, Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Belgium (Wallonie-Brussels Delegation), and host Vietnam.
These works focus on such topics as climate change, environmental pollution, gender equality, and ways to protect and coexist peacefully with nature.
This annual cultural event is co-organized by the National Documentary and Scientific Film Studio under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and the European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC).
Director Trinh Quang Tung, deputy head of the National Documentary and Scientific Film Studio, said the festival is a cultural exchange activity that has left audiences with a good impression over the years.
Through the festival, film buffs can explore more about the people and culture of Vietnam and European countries, as well as the relations between humans and current global issues, Tung said.
The 13th edition is expected to enable Vietnamese artists and film producers to broaden their experience in the film industry and come up with new ideas, Tung added.
Among the seven international works to be featured at the festival, a few have won prestigious awards and nominations such as ‘The Happy Worker,’ ‘Sous Le Nom De Tania,’ ‘Die Unbeugsamen’ (Femocracy), and ‘Living Proof: A Climate Story.’
|‘Vesuvio’ or ‘How They Learned To Live Between Volcanoes’ by Italian director Giovanni Troilo will be presented at the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival.|
The seven films from EU nations highlight the topics of climate change, environmental protection, and peaceful coexistence with nature, including ‘Vesuvio’ or ‘How They Learned To Live Between Volcanoes’ (Italy), ‘Living Proof: A Climate Story’ (the UK), ‘Matter Out Of Place’ (Austria).
Film enthusiasts can also explore stories about other contemporary global issues including employment in ‘The Happy Worker’ (Finland), and women’s rights and gender equality in ‘Sous Le Nom De Tania’ (Wallonie-Brussels) and ‘Die Unbeugsamen’ (Germany).
Donna McGowan, director of the British Council in Vietnam, said the film festival will help us reflect on contemporary global issues.
|Participants at a press meeting to announce the 13th European-Vietnamese Documentary Film Festival in Hanoi, September 18, 2023. Photo: Dau Dung / Tuoi Tre|
“Vietnam is vulnerable to climate change. Audiences will learn more about issues this country is encountering,” McGowan elaborated.
The 12 Vietnamese films at the event tell stories about environmental pollution, the post-war period, cybercrimes, wildlife protection, epidemics, and gender equality.
The festival will also feature documentary films by independent authors, comprising ‘Children Of The Mist’ (Vietnam), ‘Road Back To The Wild’ (Vietnam), and ‘I Want To Breathe’ (Vietnam).
Painter dedicates artworks to victims, rescuers of tragic Hanoi fire
Artist Le Sa Long crafted a series of seven paintings within three days to commemorate 56 dead victims of a recent fatal fire in Hanoi, while also conveying his appreciation for the relentless efforts of both emergency responders and compassionate civilians who fought the blaze and aided the struggling victims.
Long, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association, joined numerous Vietnamese citizens from across Vietnam in closely monitoring news about the fire at an apartment block in Thanh Xuan District of the capital on Tuesday night last week.
The conflagration hit the apartment block down a narrow alley on Khuong Ha Street in the district and claimed the lives of 56 people while injuring 37 others.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts the scene of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The tragedy inspired Long to dedicate nearly three days to crafting seven paintings in remembrance of the lost victims.
Out of the seven paintings, five form a sequential narrative.
The initial one portrays the scene of the tragic incident, while the subsequent paintings describe the efforts of emergency responders extinguishing the flames and rescuing individuals from the engulfed building.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts two brave emergency responders fearlessly entering a burning building to rescue victims in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The last two paintings consist of individual portraits.
In one, he depicts Nguyen Dang Van, a 30-year-old deliveryman from Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam, who valiantly assisted in the rescue of nine people from the fire.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts police officers, firefighters, and civilians banding together to rescue victims of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
In the other portrait, Long painted Pham Quoc Viet, founder and leader of First Aid Support Angels, a civilian charity organization committed to offering prompt first aid assistance for all accidents in Hanoi.
Viet and his team also provided aid at the scene of the fire last Tuesday night.
“If I have the opportunity to meet these two brave young people, Pham Quoc Viet and Nguyen Dang Van, I will present them with their portrait paintings as a gesture of gratitude for their fearless acts of rescuing people without regard to their own safety,” Long said.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts emergency responders working at the scene of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
Besides, Long is currently working on another oil painting measuring 120cm x 160cm, centered around a rare moment of respite among the firefighters after they successfully combated the deadly blaze on Tuesday night.
He plans to put this painting up for auction, with the proceeds to be used as support for the families of the 56 deceased victims.
|A painting by artist Le Sa Long depicts a firefighter carrying a child out of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
The artist said he worked diligently to finish the first seven paintings on Sunday night, just before various Hanoi departments and organizations observed a minute of silence in memory of the 56 victims on Monday morning.
The result of his work, however, did not feel rushed at all.
|A portrait by artist Le Sa Long depicts Nguyen Van Dang, a heroic deliveryman who helped rescue nine people from the site of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
Long conveyed the poignant incident with a touch of compassion and sensitivity, paying tribute to the fire brigade and promoting fire prevention and fighting in a gentle and impactful manner.
He agreed with Hoang Song Viet, a prolific composer of traditional southern Vietnam music and performance ‘cai luong,’ on transforming this heart-wrenching incident into works of literature and art as a means to raise people’s awareness about the importance of fire prevention and fighting, particularly in densely-populated urban areas like Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.
|A portrait by artist Le Sa Long depicts Pham Quoc Viet, founder and leader of First Aid Support Angels, a civilian charity organization dedicated to providing timely first aid for accidents in Hanoi, who led his team to help rescue victims at the site of a tragic apartment building fire in Hanoi, September 2023. Photo: Supplied|
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