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gulfporter

Happy Chinese New Year!

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I forgot about it until a friend emailed me greetings.  

 

We have one rather awful Chinese eatery here, so will go to a Thai restaurant that serves a range of Asian dishes.  

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I meant to ask some questions before today, and I didn't get around to it.  So I'll ask now.

 

For Chinese New Year I know there are lucky foods/dishes that are made.  Do these change?  For example, for New Year's Day we always eat greens, black eyed peas etc. for luck.  Since this is the year of the dog are there specific lucky foods?

 

I should have planned better and made something fun tonight......

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4 hours ago, Shelby said:

I meant to ask some questions before today, and I didn't get around to it.  So I'll ask now.

 

For Chinese New Year I know there are lucky foods/dishes that are made.  Do these change?  For example, for New Year's Day we always eat greens, black eyed peas etc. for luck.  Since this is the year of the dog are there specific lucky foods?

 

I should have planned better and made something fun tonight......

 

At work today someone brought in a bag of lucky candies.  It will be lucky if there are any left tomorrow.

 

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On 17/02/2018 at 5:32 AM, Shelby said:

For Chinese New Year I know there are lucky foods/dishes that are made.  Do these change?

 

They don't usually change according to which zodiac sign it is this time. Chinese New Year dinners vary throughout the country in line with the regional differences, but there are some which are more or less universal.

 

Most of these are laden with significance and superstition. Here are a few.

 

Jiaozi 饺子 (jiǎo zi)

 

Many dumplings are considered to resemble money bags and therefore are a lucky omen for the upcoming year. Jiaozi, however are thought to resemble ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots and are by far the most common. Originally from the far north-east, they are now universal.

jiaozi.thumb.jpg.c03497d5b3f4955781a7c6cec3947db6.jpg

 

Fish 鱼 yú

Considered lucky as the word for fish (鱼 yú) is pronounced exactly the same as 余 yú meaning 'surplus'  or almost exactly  the same (only the tone differs) as 裕 yù, meaning 'abundance'. The fish is usually served whole to signify family unity.

fish.thumb.jpg.0c96fb86cca5439b9ee214f6a45de9b1.jpg

 

Pork 猪肉 zhū ròu

 

Pork, as I'm sure people know is the default meat in most of China. It is usually served in some form as New Year meals. Again, it is symbolic of wealth and abundance. How it is served is highly variable.  Cured pork and pork sausages are a common New Year food.

 

20180217_122145.thumb.jpg.d9ced26fc4e8b22e2404fd981438244f.jpg

 

20180217_122115.thumb.jpg.a09cf18fe39472033b973940f135437d.jpg

 

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A popular New Year pork dish here where I am is 扣肉 kòu ròu, deep fried pork belly slices placed in a bowl with sliced taro between each slice then steamed. When ready the  bowl is turned upside down to present the food like a dome.  '扣 kòu means upside down bowl'.

kourou1.thumb.jpg.2d4c6b56a6571ef88f27268ec46d6c29.jpg

扣肉 kòu ròu

 

Chicken 鸡 jī

 

Again, although chicken is usually served, there are huge regional variations as to exactly how. Popular here in the south is 白切鸡 bái qiē jī - white cut chicken, which is a whole chicken poached in water, then cut for presentation. This is originally a Cantonese dish. Other regions will have their own favourites.

 

5a87ceab49a91_whitecutchicken2.thumb.jpg.93e70bffcc83c674f65d9926bcd74265.jpg

 

Noodles 面条 miàn tiáo

 

Noodles represent longevity, something very much to be wished for in Chinese culture more than perhaps in others. Again, what type of noodle dish is is variable. Long noodles are preferred, for obvious reasons. Never cut your noodles!

 

5a87ce902e995_Noodles1.thumb.jpg.683d605e8a3ecf2515e99ed3215bf4d3.jpg

 

New Year Cake 年糕 nián gāo

These are made from glutinous rice with various sweet flavourings, most importantly sugar. Again they vary a lot depending on location. Here is a local version.

niangao.thumb.jpg.86eb3845ce88901e5d8c58a7687f90c7.jpg

 

Finally, I ought to mention 汤圆  tāng yuán, sweet balls of glutinous rice, served in a hot, thin syrup. I don't have a picture as I can't stand them. I don't like sweet food much and I hate their texture and stickiness.

Please remember, these are only the more common dishes or ingredients served. The variation across the country is  huge.


Edited by liuzhou typos (log)
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On 17/02/2018 at 9:43 AM, JoNorvelleWalker said:

At work today someone brought in a bag of lucky candies.

 

The candies drive me insane. Every year for weeks before the CNY, the supermarkets hide all the stuff I want to buy and fill their stores with candy. Cheap (but still overpriced), nasty candy.

 

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20180217_122342.thumb.jpg.d2816596ca7f2fac40f77647a690fdaa.jpg

 

Those are two of the candy sections in my local supermarket. There are eight!

 

Then there are the cookie sections. Four of them.

 

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And the nuts for the nuts who buy them.

20180217_122635.thumb.jpg.518ef3cd08da1b6af5fd1ffcfc59ce3b.jpg

 

They never have these at any other times..


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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11 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

And the nuts for the nuts who buy them.

20180217_122635.thumb.jpg.518ef3cd08da1b6af5fd1ffcfc59ce3b.jpg

 

They never have these at any other times..

 

 

Is there something about North American nuts that evokes a pejorative response?

 

By the way those butter cookies look much like the ubiquitous tins of Christmas butter cookies we get here each year from Denmark.  Perhaps not much to write home about, but as my son might say, not half bad at all.  Particularly with a glass of milk.

 

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13 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Is there something about North American nuts that evokes a pejorative response?

 

By the way those butter cookies look much like the ubiquitous tins of Christmas butter cookies we get here each year from Denmark. 

 

No pejoration intended towards N. America.

 

It's just that the "North American" nuts are ten times the same price as the identical, more local ones and probably aren't North American at all. Any pejoration is aimed at the buyers.

Yes, the butter cookies are the much like those we also get in the UK at Christmas. Most are Chinese made, although one brand is labelled Danish Butter Cookies. Hmmm. Maybe.The only thing most locals know about Denmark is Hans Christian Andersen and butter cookies.

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9 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

The only thing most locals know about Denmark is Hans Christian Andersen and butter cookies.

 

There is something else?  (Except for canned bacon of course.)

 

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43 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

There is something else?  (Except for canned bacon of course.)

 

Noma ?

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I thought that was Mexican.

 

Let's compromise and call it fusion :D

 

Smørrebrød ?

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I forgot the fruit.

Traditionally, oranges are seen as lucky and these lucky "orange trees"  appear all over the place, Mainly outside commercial premises. This one is outside my nearest posts office.

 

oranges.thumb.jpg.3e18b0b5b6e35dba79b50f90527cdeed.jpg

 

For the last couple of years, every vacant shop has been briefly transformed into a pop-up fruit store selling all sorts. They will sell you a couple of apples if you insist, but they are really looking to sell fruit baskets or cases of fruit to be given as gifts,. Little of it is actually in season, but forced. By the end of next week, they will all be gone.

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Here is a picture a friend sent me of her CNY eve dinner for the family. Five people shared this lot. They are on the border of Guangxi and Sichuan provinces.

 

5a8939ac015f3_nydinner.thumb.jpg.756122330ec4ff1f93167e6c227212c6.jpg

 

And to show you the quiet, tranquil manner in which such dinners are consumed, here is  very short video from another friend, this time in Hunan.
 

 

(In each case, permission has been granted by the said friends to post them here.)

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5 hours ago, liuzhou said:

one brand is labelled Danish Butter Cookies. Hmmm. Maybe.

 

This afternoon, I checked out the "Danish Butter Cookies" which are in every supermarket. The front of the box says "Danish Butter Cookies" in both English and Chinese (not Danish), but in the small print on the back of the box, it said, in Chinese only, "Made in Guangzhou to an original Danish recipe."

 

I'm now guessing none of them are from Denmark, but they are charged for at imported food prices. Nuts don't only buy nuts!

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On 18/02/2018 at 8:33 AM, liuzhou said:

Here is a picture a friend sent me of her CNY eve dinner for the family. Five people shared this lot. They are on the border of Guangxi and Sichuan provinces.

 

5a8939ac015f3_nydinner.thumb.jpg.756122330ec4ff1f93167e6c227212c6.jpg

 

 

 

Wonderful to see properly authentic Chinese food.  I am intrigued that everything is presented in small pieces having recently read a book about the history of kitchen equipment.  The section on knives explained that in China and Japan knives are reserved for the kitchen.  Diners wouldn’t be expected to cut their food themselves when a chef with knife skills beyond those most can imagine will do the chopping before service.  Made sense of chopsticks for me.  

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36 minutes ago, DianaB said:

 

Wonderful to see properly authentic Chinese food.  I am intrigued that everything is presented in small pieces having recently read a book about the history of kitchen equipment.  The section on knives explained that in China and Japan knives are reserved for the kitchen.  Diners wouldn’t be expected to cut their food themselves when a chef with knife skills beyond those most can imagine will do the chopping before service.  Made sense of chopsticks for me.  

 

Indeed, knives are never on the dining table. It's not so much to do with the chefs having superior knife skills, though. The main reasons are

a) Knives at the table are considered unfriendly. You might take a disliking to a fellow guest and do them damage!

 

b) More likely, it stems from the traditional necessity to save fuel.  Smaller pieces cook more quickly and so save fuel. Of course, there are exceptions to the 'cut into bite size pieces' rule, but not many. Fish are steamed whole, but we just pick off pieces with our chopsticks, just the same. No knives.

 

In fact, most homes don't even have table knives. Just cleavers for the kitchen. Few cutlery/silverware shops have table knives.

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@liuzhou, given the situation in respect of knives at the table (I know there are also spoons, the book ‘Consider the Fork’ by Bee Wilson is an extremely informative easy read on all such everyday items across cultures), what does the apparently steel dish towards the middle of the table contain?  

 

On on my iPad it appears to be a green vegetable with something I can’t identify in a sauce.  Perhaps it is one of those things obvious to many but not to me, ‘‘tis often that way...  How would this piece be shared and eaten?  Perhaps it is tender and will fall apart so that diners can help themselves?

 

I’m intrigued.

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6 minutes ago, DianaB said:

On on my iPad it appears to be a green vegetable with something I can’t identify in a sauce.  Perhaps it is one of those things obvious to many but not to me, ‘‘tis often that way...  How would this piece be shared and eaten?  Perhaps it is tender and will fall apart so that diners can help themselves

 

I'm not sure what it is, either. I'll ask my friend but she is travelling on business right now , so it may take a little time.

 

It will be something fall apart tender, though.

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Looks like chicken. You can see a chicken wing on top. But that would be strange to have a chicken without its head for new year.

 

dcarch

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42 minutes ago, dcarch said:

Looks like chicken. You can see a chicken wing on top. But that would be strange to have a chicken without its head for new year.

 

dcarch

 

I've never seen chicken served whole like that.

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At first glance, I thought it was a chicken also, sitting in soup - but as @liuzhou said, that would be really odd.

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53 minutes ago, dcarch said:

Looks like chicken. You can see a chicken wing on top. But that would be strange to have a chicken without its head for new year.

 

dcarch

 

Also, it would have to be a pretty small chicken. And if it is chicken then there would appear to be three chicken dishes on the table. Again unlikely.

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Posted (edited)

Here is a special program on Chinese New Year food celebrations made by the A Bite of China team. Unfortunately, despite the claim in the title on YouTube,  there are no English subtitles - only Chinese. But I think it's still worth a look.  It's beautifully filmed food porn!

 

It shows clearly the huge diversity between regions of China, but also the common themes. It does tend to concentrate on the countryside, where the traditions are more preserved and diverse.

 

The section from 14m 55s  to 23m 50s is filmed around these parts and, among other things, shows the making of the Kou Rou ( 扣肉 kòu ròu ) I mentioned in my first post in this topic.

 

 

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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