Chin-Ind Loempia

Step 6 of 6

Chinese loempia: edible gold bars

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Spring (festival) rolls - []( Taiwanese spring roll ingredients - [Wikipedia]( Popiah - [Wikipedia](

Having mapped the loempia and its significance in the Netherlands, it is important to close off by looking at its relevance in its country of origin: China. Food is very important in China, and many dishes have a rich cultural background, symbolising many auspicious signs. The same goes for our spring rolls.

In mainland China, spring rolls are often eaten during the Spring Festival Chunjie 春节 to welcome the arrival of spring. During spring it was believed to be a good season to eat strongly flavoured ingredients, such as garlic, shallots, leek and coriander.[Hayes 2017] These ingredients were believed to provide an energy boost, and to balance out the strong flavours these were wrapped in plain wrappers.[Ibid] Moreover, the loempia has a symbolic meaning in Chinese culture: the golden color and its cylindrical form resemble gold bars, thus they can be seen as a symbol of wealth.[Smithsonian]

Yet, the gold color is not a given in the case of the loempia. During Spring Festival, my mother said that we would eat spring rolls that evening. As a young girl living in The Netherlands, I was unaware that Spring Festival had arrived, but I was very excited to eat crispy fried spring rolls for dinner. Come evening, I was left surprised. My mom put two things on the table: a large bowl with stir-fried vegetables and a pack of spring roll wrappers. She started to roll them and then handed one over to me, unfried. Not the kind of spring rolls that I expected.

It turned out that in Southeast China and Taiwan, it is common to fill thin wrappers with filling, and eat them without deep-frying it. These unfried spring rolls are called popiah. The filling can be mixed together, but also laid out on different plates and everyone can fill their wrapper to their own liking. That evening we had ourselves a real popiah party.