• To begin with, Mom always serves a noodle dish, the strands of the noodles signifies long life. Don’t cut the noodles before serving, otherwise you’re snipping your life short.
• A whole chicken, head and all, is served simply steamed to represent good health. A whole steamed fish, eyeballs and all, was served for abundance.” The Chinese word for fish is, “yu,” which, according to my mom, sounds similar to the Chinese word for “every year our family has something leftover and we always have enough.” The Chinese are very efficient in the language department.
• Crispy egg rolls, once fried to a golden brown, resemble long gold bars. Handmade dumplings, either pan fried or boiled, look like ancient Chinese gold ingots. My mom’s family used to hide a gold coin in one of the hundreds of dumplings that they would make and the lucky bastard who bit into the dumpling with the coin was to receive wealth and prosperity throughout the year following a hefty dental bill, I’m sure.
• For luck, display plenty of tangerines, preferably big fat ones with leaves still attached. Also of great importance is “Nien Goh,” or steamed rice cake, which signifies “every year you reach a higher level of life,” says mom.
• But whatever you do, don’t serve squid, called “Yow Yu.” In the olden days, workers would have to travel far from home to work, often bringing personal belongings rolled up in a blanket. When a worker was fired, he was ordered to “yow,” or roll up his blanket, packing his stuff to go home. Serving squid symbolizes being fired in the coming year. If your co-workers or subordinates pleasantly surprises you with a dish of succulent squid, be very suspicious.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Year of the Ox - graze on this
Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, marks the start of the Chinese new year, the year of the . Jaden Hair, who writes a bright and informative blog called Steamy Kitchen, talked with her parents last year about Chinese food superstitions. These are from her mom, whose family hails from Canton: