March 31, 2017 08:24
As the weather becomes milder, a warm breeze blows and the field turn green, Koreans traditionally eat hwajeon, a flat rice cake decorated with flower petals to fully satisfy all senses.
Azaleas were the most popular choice of flower. According to "Dongguksesigi," a book about seasonal customs from 1849, people pick azalea flowers on samjinnal, a festive day that marks the arrival of spring and falls on the third day of the third lunar month.
Then they make a dough with glutinous rice flour, shape it into balls that are flattened and decorated with azalea petals before they are pan-fried with sesame oil.
In northern Korea, where azaleas blossom later, hwajeon was enjoyed about a month later.
There is a popular belief that hwajeon derived from a poor nobleman who treated guests to his daughter's wedding with food cooked with azalea preserved in salt.
Today, hwajeon is no longer widely eaten, except in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, where it is also garnished with mugwort.
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