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Chinese New Year Food and Gifts 2024


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I got excited when I found this packet. Wasabi peas, I thought. No such luck. According to the pack they are just roasted peas with no flavouring mentioned.

 

Unless, of course you look at the ingredient l list and find that 48% by volume of the ingredients are food additives. 15 of them. Food Additive Flavour Peas.

 

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Pass.

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Then

 

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伦蛋糕 (lún dàn gāo), ring cake - 巧克力味 (qiǎo kè lì wèi), chocolate flavour.

 

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Not pretty but the best thing I've tasted so far from this box. Really it's just a sponge cake with a good chocolate flavour despite, or because of having even more additives than the last item.

 

Would I buy one? Probably not.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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I posted something similar a few posts back but if it wasn't for my teeth, I'd be all over these. 

 

Last time it was beef flavoured broad beans / fava beans. Now it's the real deal.

 

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Chilli roasted broad beans. What more is there to say other than to curse old teeth.

 

Well one thing. The portion is a bit miserable (smaller bag than the beef ones).

 

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Probably bigger bags are available.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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9 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Today, Friday 9th February 2024 is 除夕 (chú xī), Chinese New Year's Eve, probably the most important day of the holiday.

 

Most shops will close around noon or shortly after and everyone will head home for 年夜饭 (nián yè fàn), literally 'year eve food', New Year's Eve dinner, also known as 团年饭 (tuán nián fàn), Reunion Dinner.

 

Literally millions of people have spent this week travelling home for this meal with their families.

 

It's forecast to be the largest migration of people in history, as it is the first such to be almost Covid free since 2019.

 

So, what's for dinner? I've been looking through internet accounts of what people consider to be the essential New Year meal. Few agree; some are nonsensical. A large number of people describe what their family eat and assume everyone else is doing the same. It ain't necessarily so.

 

However, there are a few commonalities.

 

Chinese New Year is an orgy of superstition and most foods are chosen for their extremely tenuous links, mostly linguistic, to desirable material outcomes such as prosperity and success in the upcoming year.

 

Fish is important. But the superstition is more so. Fish in Chinese is 鱼 (yú), a homophone of 余 (yú) meaning 'surplus' or 'extra'. So, by eating fish, you will have surplus food and/or money in the new year. Obviously.

 

The fish, usually carp, is cooked (steamed) and served whole, symbolising family unity and harmony. The head and tail are left on representing 

 

a) the surplus will last from beginning to end

 

b) the notion of finishing what you start being important.

 

The fish is placed on the table with the head pointing to the eldest or most important guest and then we can eat. But not all of it! The fish is eaten over two days, doubling down on the 'surplus' theme. We have enough for tomorrow.

 

We pick the flesh from the middle part of the fish with our chopsticks. When we reach the bones we mustn't flip the fish over or all our luck will tip out and be drowned.

 

Then we come to chicken. Again steamed is most common. And again served whole. Chicken is 鸡 (jī). But 吉 is also jí, a near homophone (only the tone differs) meaning 'lucky'. So eating chicken will clearly bring luck!

 

Today, people will have been making 饺子 (jiǎo zi), dumplings. These must be wrapped and ready to cook before midnight. Jiaozi is associated with 交 (jiāo) and 子 (zǐ), the former meaning 'deliver' and the latter, 'midnight'. So the dumplings must be delivered before then.

 

交 (jiāo) can also mean 'exchange' so reminds us that it is time to exchange the old for the new.

 

The dumplings are also held to resemble ingots of gold and 角子 (jiǎo zi) is a monetary unit and coin, also representing wealth (despite the coin being worthless today). Indeed such a coin is often hidden in one of the dumplings bringing wealth to the lucky recipient providing they don't choke to death on it.

 

Tangerines and orange are also a New Year fruit. They are 橙 (chéng). An exact homophone is 成 (chéng) meaning 'success'. 

 

Pomelo is 柚子 (yòu zi), the first character of which is both a near homophone of 有 (yǒu) meaning 'have' and an exact homophone of 又 (yòu) meaning 'again'. Eat a pomelo and you'll have food again!

 

Other superstitions at New Year are associated with noodles (longevity) and spring rolls and many more.

 

After dinner, everyone sits down to watch the New Year Gala, a god-awful annual variety show on communist party controlled television. Talentless drones line up to bore everyone year after year. It reminds me of the old regime swept away by the Beatles 60 years ago.

 

I'm going to eat nothing particularly festive, then attempt to finish cataloguing my snack box in search of something edible.

 

新年快乐!

 

 

Thanks for this!  Your ears should have been burning yesterday because I talked about you to Ronnie.  We decided to go to the Asian Market.  Yes, I've been reading this topic with relish.  No, it didn't strike me until we pulled into the parking lot that it was the day before Chinese NYE!  OH the store was more packed than I've ever seen.  Both with goods to sell and people.  I wish it hadn't been so packed because I could have spent hours in there and I would have taken pictures.  The seafood and meat sections had so many items--tons of fish and whole chickens. All over the store there were banners and lanterns.  Predominately red and gold colored.  The aisles were so packed with excess things that you could barely get your cart through.  The line to check out was enormously long.  I wish you would have been with us--I really enjoyed seeing what everyone else was buying.  We definitely stuck out like a sore thumb being the only non-Asian people in there lol.  I know now that one lady was buying pomelos after reading your post.  They were wrapped in protective netting and tissue paper.  She had several of them.  Another person seemed to have tons of the ingredients to make a huge hot pot.  I imagine the family that runs that store were completely exhausted by the end of business hours last night.

 

I also learned that I was born in the year of the Tiger and Ronnie was born in the year of the Snake.  Which is ironic because he's deathly afraid of snakes lol.

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Yes. Sounds like my local supermarkets. Chaos!

 

Hotpots are a favourite at CNY.  I'm a snake too, but I like them. For dinner!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Love those chilli broad beans, but know what you mean about being wary of your teeth. They remind me of pork scratchings in that some are perfect texture and some are just a bit too crunchy but you never really know which it'll be! 

 

We're off to Sheffield on Sunday to see their lunar New year celebrations. We saw the lion dancers last year through luck but this year the city is putting on quite a few activities in the centre. There seems to have been quite an influx of students from China in the last ten years which is great for diversity but also because of all the amazing little eateries popping up that are catering for the new demographic. So it appears the city are wanting to help celebrate.

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There is light at the end of the box!

 

I knew these would be in there somewhere.

 

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Seaweed rice cakes.

 

I've never understood the appeal. Dry, hard and flavourless, they turn up everywhere from CNY to weddings to funerals.

 

Still, I do admire the skill at making seaweed tasteless. Also, according to the ingredients, they contain bonito. I think they mean a bonito once swam past the factory in 1962.

 

The bag contains four smaller bags, each of which contains two 8cm / 2.5 inch diameter cakes.

 

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Cardboard.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Then there are these Milk Cakes. In fact, they are labeled as 'Milk Flavour Milk Cakes'. 

 

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Clearly aimed at children, these features the easiest 'join the dots puzzle' ever devised and a milk and cow sticker for wherever you stick stickers.

 

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The actual edibles are just churn shaped biscuits/cookies. Not particularly milky, but edible. 'Inoffensive' is as effusive I can get.

 

  • Like 3

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Penultimately, we reach the abysmal depths, snack depravity.

 

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These are known as 米果卷, 'rice fruit rolls'. Sounds innocent enough but beware! Demons lurk within. Buried in the small print is the appalling truth - 甜玉米味! Sweet c@rn flavour!!

 

Pausing only to photograph the evidence for the prosecution, these go straight in the trash, back to where they crawled from the slime.

 

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Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Finally, the end.

 

Full of additives and self loathing, I need to wash out my mouth. They 'kindly' supply a small (245ml) bottle of milk. UHT, of course.

 

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I ignore that and pour a nice inch or three of Laphroaig instead. The shock of the previous item will not be assuaged by cow juice.

 

So that was my CNY journey through Chinese snacks. It won't be repeated.

 

Happy Dragons.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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