Korean Food : Flower Decorated Rice cake, Hwajeon
Nearly 20 years ago
It was a day spring revived with newly born colors. The street along my school was filled with diverse colors, yellow, dark red, crimson, pink and green. Among them, the pink was the most noticeable color of all. That was from fully bloomed Azaleas.
My grandma said
You are lucky to have them.
I didn't understand what she meant.
I assumed that maybe because it was so much beautiful.
my grandma called us and asked us to pluck some azalea petals on the street. I felt reluctant to do what she said. How dare I pick off flowers! I defiantly asked her why. She said there was something she wanted to make with it and I would be surprised. Yes, I love surprises.
Picking up petals
I felt unconscientious for the end of a life, even it was a plant. (I think I was more emotional than now.) After a moment, I forgot that thought and fell into the amusement of collecting pretty petals. Finally we ended up gathering a small basket of azalea and came back home.
Entering home, I saw my grandma kneading dough, sitting on the living room floor. Around her there were a gas burner, a frying pan and other ingredients and utensils. We sat beside her, showing off what we’ve got by ourselves. She grinned and asked us to wash them throughly and bring them back.
Grandma let us grab a hand-sized dough and round it rolling with two hands. Then, she flattened the dough, and placed it on the preheated frying pan. Around 1 minute later, she flipped it over and reheated it. I recognized that she was making a rice pancake, frying it. It must be super-yum with warm, chewy texture.
All of a sudden, She glanced at us with a mysterious smile and attached a petal into one side of well cooked rice pancake. We were astonished and stared curiously at what she was doing. She let it firmly fixed, looking at us, giggling.
My sister and I were so excited and shouted at her in unison, “What’s next? What? What?”. She moved a azalea decorated pancake to the dish, and drizzled a teaspoon of syrup on it.
It is called 'Hwajeon'
She said, “It’s done. It’s called Hwajeon(meaning ‘flower pancake’). Precisely, Jindalle Hwajeon(azalea flower pancake). I made this beautiful dish very often when I was young. Nowadays, it’s not easy to find wild azalea in the city. You are lucky to have them around our house.”
I am lucky to have them.
Finally, I understood what she meant, and I truly thought I was lucky to have them. And I also thought I was very lucky to have my grandma to let me know this beautiful plate of flowers.
On that day, We made hundreds of hwajeon trying as many different designs of it as I could imagine. How about the taste?
It was as delicious as my grandma’s love.
What is Hwajoen?
Hwajeon is a small rice cake(tteok) adorned with edible flower petals including azalea and chrysanthemums.
Hwajeon was commonly eaten at a traditional custom called hwajeonnori meaning flower rice-cake play. Every March 3 in the lunar calendar, named ‘Samjinnal’, azaleas blooming, women and children went out to pluck azaleas or other edible flowers. They also carried all ingredients and a thick frying pan to make it outside.
20 years Later
I have grown up and I could make Hwajeon by myself without any help from my grandma. But sadly, there’s no azaleas around my house anymore, as the city has grown larger. I am not lucky anymore in terms of azalea.
But I am lucky to have this beautiful memory
with my wonderful grandma.
* Samjinnal(March 3 of lunar calendar) is March 24 this year 2012.
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