La is the short form of December in Chinese lunar calendar, Ba is eight. Laba is the eighth day of the month of December in lunar year. Because it is the coldest month during a year (in western calendar it is usually January), there are some traditional dishes Chinese make on this particular day each year. Well, I learned about this when my aunt came over and told us about it 🙂 Today we also happen to make our first sausages at home! I was really surprised to find out Google actually made today’s logo for Laba festival featuring the laba porridge. So Chinese will make a sweet rice porridge with 8 treasures called Laba porridge (腊八粥), depending on the locations, people select whatever they like as long as they stick to the sweet rice (or sticky rice). We live in a house that has abundant supply of a variety of grains and nuts so it is not a problem. I used sweet rice, walnut, red beans, corn, dates, pearl barley, lotus seeds and peanuts plus a little crystal sugar (surprised I found it, left by my dad, in the house with no sugar).
The homemade sausage is no joke, my aunt and I started after lunch and we got done at midnight. She bought the pork in 2 huge chunks, weighing about 8kg. We cut out the meat, sliced them and washed them with warm water (that took us a few hours), I used a towel to dry the pork and mixed it in some olive oil with spices. Basically we fried some anise, cinnamon (from the Costa Rican organic farm) and ginger. Then I poured the sauce – soy sauce, fresh squeezed ginger juice, salt, and vodka – all over it and used my hands to mix it well. The filling process was really a challenge since neither my aunt and I have done it before, it was indeed intimidating but we had no choice but to finish the job! Now we hung them by the window where they can get enough sun light and wind. In Chinese Lunar Calender, there are 24 weather related important dates to mark the different seasons and it’s amazing how accurate they are! Like today, it’s indeed really cold!!! Now the weather is the coldest in a year, so it is the best two weeks we can ask for to make great sausages, I can’t wait to taste them!