Monday, 1 March 2010

last day of chinese new year / out at enlightened cuisine

The foods we eat at Chinese New Year are important: there is a symbolism there, we don't just eat them for tradition, we eat them because of superstition. That's not to deny that custom is involved, because it is, but its primary function is symbolic in nature.

We eat fish(鱼), for prosperity, and abundance.
We eat chicken(鸡), for happiness.
We eat noodles to bring us a long life.
We give oranges as a symbol that we wish our friends to be wealthy.
We eat peanuts for long life.

cny noodles

We share these dishes, passing them back and cross the table, dipping in with our chopsticks, to indicate that we wish these things for one another, that we want to share these things with our loved ones.

This is part of the reason why the hardest part about my veganism for my mother was not veganising foods, but coming to terms with the fact that we could no longer share in this way during Chinese New Year. And this is why mock meats exist, you know, for exactly this reason.

courting the abundance

Yesterday was the last day of Chinese New Year, so Em and Jo joined us at Enlighted Cuisine for one last CNY noodle sharing. The table across from us had yee sang, and oh I considered it for half a second, but put it aside for next year - next year we'll go to EC for yee sang, and lo hei it all up.

We ordered the lemon chicken, and we ordered an assam fish (the fish was deliciousness, though could have done with more sauce). Of course (of course) we ordered noodles, Em and I would have it no other way. We ordered some gailan, which was beautifully gingery, and we loaded up with chillis, both fresh and otherwise, which were tangy and spicy (in the case of the sambal, very spicy).

I wanted yee mee, but we went for the mee goreng, which was gently flavoured with curry powder (my favourite way of serving mee goreng).

EC was full of people doing both 15th day of the month stuff, and last day of CNY stuff, and it was nice. Sad it was so cold!

two! two types of chilli!


Johanna GGG said...

I get sad sometimes about the meaningful foods I miss out on because I have decided to be vegetarian but I have created some traditions that bring some comfort.

Love hearing all about the Chinese traditions - this years CNY meant so much more to me because of hearing about some of the meaning behind it - so glad it sounds like you were able to celebrate with lots of good food!

cseneque said...

Thanks for posting this Steph! I'd never thought about mock meats in this way.

steph said...

Johanna - it's so hard to miss out on those traditions!

Cseneque, no worries!