The black hunchback chung cake of the Giay, Tay, Nung, and Dao ethnic people in Lao Cai province is made to pay tribute to the ancestors and to Heaven and to pray for bumper crops and favourable weather in the new year.

It also helps raise local earnings, while making the local staple and culture more accessible to others around the country.

For the local ethnic minority people, the cake is billed as “the soul of the northwestern region’s cuisine”.

The cake is in the shape of an ethnic woman carrying a basket on her back, bending down to work the field, and honours the hard work and diligence of local people.

“Banh chung gu den” is readily found in many different places, but the version in Lao Cai has a unique taste, as it is made from the ash of “nuc nac” trees, a thick tree growing in the mountains and forests that, it is said, can dispel evil spirits.

The cake is not only a special dish in Lao Cai during the Tet holiday, it is also the essence of the northwestern region’s cuisine, and bears the cultural values of the ethnic groups in local border areas./.