Every spring, on Kinh Mon people's trays of offerings for heaven and earth, family ancestors, or distinguished visitors, there are not only chung (square glutinous rice) but also long cakes.
To date, long cakes have become a specialty imbrued with the quintessence of Kinh Mon cuisine and been bought as gifts by many tourists attending festivals at the An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong relic complex.
Hue Tri village in An Phu commune is considered the birthplace of Kinh Mon's long cakes since almost all families there know how to make them deliciously.
"I was taught how to make long cakes from an early age when I was living with my parents at my aunt's house. Since getting married, my husband and I have made long cakes every Tet for offering to our ancestors and guests because both of us know the profession," said villager Mac Thi Phuong.
In recent years, due to demands of the market, Phuong's family has still made long cakes for sale every Tet. The family of six is busy from around the 20th day of the 12th lunar month. They make averagely 70 – 80 kg of cakes/ day and even 1.2 quintals on each peak day.
No one knows since when long cake making has existed, but from grandparents to descendants of Phuong's family are proficient in this profession.
Long cakes are made from cai hoa vang glutinous rice, sugar, peanuts, sesames, ginger, and coconut preserves.
Rice popping and syrup making are the hardest stages of material preparation. Cai hoa vang glutinous rice is popped and pounded (or ground). White sugar is dissolved in water and boiled down. Cakes will be firm, sweet-smelling, and durable if the liquid sugar is carefully condensed. Peanuts are roasted and peeled, sesames are also parched, and ginger is pounded for water. All of them are put into a pot of syrup, quickly and evenly turned over until the mixture becomes soft and smooth, and poured into a wooden mold for pressing.
To make a delicious cake batch, the mold must be tight, and the ingredients must be evenly mingled, soft, flexible, and not curdled, too solid, or pasty.
If only taking a glimpse, many people may mistake long cakes for cay or che lam cakes. However, upon enjoyment, all of them will taste the specific deliciousness of the cakes: the fragrance and greasiness of Kinh Mon cai hoa vang glutinous rice, peanuts, and sesames, the pungency of ginger, and the moderate sweetness of sugar and preserves.
Since long cakes are completely manually made with no preservatives, their expiry date is only about 10 days. They are the most delicious when being enjoyed with hot tea right after making.
Also thanks to the typical deliciousness, Kinh Mon's long cakes have gradually become well-known. Numerous tourists attending festivals and enjoying spring landscapes at the An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong special national relic complex have bought long cakes as gifts for their relatives.
In recent years, Kinh Mon District authorities have organized long cake making contests at spring and traditional festivals of the An Phu – Kinh Chu – Nham Duong special national relic complex. Delicious cakes were offered by the organizers to pray for favorable weather and bumper crops. These also were occasions to popularize the local specialty to tourists.