Gung Hei Fat Choi!
The Chinese New Year 農曆新年, started in Vancouver with many celebrations all over the town. I took these photos at the main parade in Vancouver Chinatown on Sunday
According to Chinese astrology, it's the year 4709 of the Metal Rabbit. It is usually considered as a calm and peaceful year, but also a year of a new art movements and national identities...
On Sunday the streets of Chinatown were packed with people. The traditional Chinese New Year's Parade is always a big spectacle with music, traditional dances, dragons and colorful costumes. This year, many people were wearing bunny ears to honor the year of the Rabbit.
Smells of sweet and sour, won-tons and rice cakes, were most intense these days. Various corporations handed out red envelopes containing Chinese candies. Real envelopes should contain money, and are given to children by their family and friends. It's thought to bring good luck. Many other traditions in the Chinese culture are also based on good luck, from colours to numbers to meals etc.. Gold is considered a colour of power and red a colour of luck, therefore, those colours prevail at this time of year.
Many buildings in Vancouver have an address with the number eight in it and some apartments are sized to 888 sq ft... traditionally, the number eight is considered very lucky and prosperous, unlike the number four which is considered very unlucky.
Symbolism also plays a big part in old traditional Chinese cooking.
Interesting and unusual meals are served for the Lunar New Year, the first meal of the first day of a lunar year should be a vegetarian dish with no meat. That first meal is called Jai and varies between the regions.
Noodles symbolise life and longevity so the longer they are the better. Jiaozi dumplings are served at midnight with one golden coin inside, the person who gets the coin will have the most luck that year. Some Orthodox Christians have a similar custom with a Christmas bread that is baked with a coin inside and is broken early Christmas morning between family members The winner of the coin is also considered " the most lucky person" that year.
Other food served throughout the days of the Lunar year includes Nian Gao-festive sticky rice cakes (a little bit different from the Japanese ones I have already written about), some unusual salads: from pig's ears to red beans and of course fortune cookies baked with a secret written message inside. Pomelos, gurds and tangerines are thought to bring prosperity and health in every household.
Just walk through Asian supermarkets these days (if you have one nearby) and you'll see what I mean. It is a "teleporting" experience! Seeing all the exotic food and dishes from Asia, is like being there.
You will be able to find out more about this event in Vancouver on my Vancouver page.
Here are recipes for a Jai from the Star Bulletin.
And here is one very famous traditional Chinese dish:
11/4 cups all purpuse flour
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tbs cold water
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 oz (100 gr) ground pork
3 tbs canned chopped bamboo shoots
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dry sherry
1tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
This popular snack is made in steamer so you need to have bamboo or some other type of steamer.
For a dough, mix all the ingredients and mix them well, than knead until smooth. Divide the dough in a 16 peaces and shape in a circle that will later be filled with a filling.
For a filling , again mix all the ingredients together and place a little bit of it on each dough circle. Pinch the edges together on a top to make like a little purses. Steam in a steamer for about 10 minutes. Serve with a soy sauce, red chili, scallions etc..