Spring rolls are one of the most popular Oriental foods, and come in numerous varieties that differs from one country to the next. The history of spring rolls is actually quite simple, even though this food has evolved greatly over the years. Here is a look at the history of spring rolls from their early beginnings until today.
What are Spring Rolls?
A spring roll is a type of snack that is made with very thin dough, and then filled with vegetables, meat, or noodles. They may be either fried to create a somewhat crunchy texture, or steamed to make them much softer. After being cooked, the outer wrapper of spring rolls are nearly translucent, which is largely what distinguishes them from egg rolls. Spring rolls can be served either hot or cold, and are typically much smaller in circumference than an egg roll.
When you look at the history of spring rolls, it is easy to see how this dish got its name. They are thought to have originated during the Eastern Jin Dynasty in China, which lasted from 265 to 420 A.D. During that time, people would make very thin cakes that were loaded with vegetables on the first day of spring. It was customary for people to eat these cakes in order to celebrate the arrival of spring, which is why they were originally referred to as “spring dish.” The custom of welcoming the season in this manner was even noted in some early poems.
Spring rolls began changing significantly during the Tang Dynasty, which took place from 618 to 907 A.D. This is when people began making spring cakes hotter and spicier, adding ingredients such as onion and garlic to them. In fact, many Chinese citizens stopped referring to them as “spring dish”, and instead started calling them “five spice dish” instead. It is important to note that while many people created spicier spring cakes, ones that were less spicy continued to be popular.
The tradition of celebrating spring by enjoying “spring dish” or “five spice dish” changed a great deal during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This is when many people began the tradition of “biting spring” instead. This involved eating spring cakes in an effort to ward off evil spirits. It was thought that by enjoying spring cakes in this manner, it would be possible to prevent disasters from occurring. At about the same time, spring cakes began to evolve into the thin, tiny rolls we are familiar with today. Their change from cakes to rolled pastries also led to them being known as spring rolls.
Today, spring rolls are enjoyed by people from across the globe, and are often served with a number of dipping sauces. They are a very filling treat that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, main course, or snack. Since they are ideal for a number of occasions, spring rolls continue to be popular among people from all walks of life.