Happy CNY everyone! That’d be the first thing to update you with this week.
It’s been a while since my last update because we spent some time in NYC and on coming back had a lot of things to catch up on. It was a last minute and unexpected trip. If you asked me a week before, there’s no way I would have been able to tell you that I was going to be in New York but hey, I’ll take it. Life is good – about bloody time if you ask me!
As for Chinese New Year, we did our traditional thing again this year. Tony and I are starting our own traditions and this is the 3rd year in a row that we have cooked the same meal for CNY.
It wasn’t exactly the same, we tweak it every year and this year we were very nonchalant about the whole thing to the point where we didn’t start shopping for it until CNY eve.
Yup. Chinatown was full, Tony was really annoyed and flustered, you couldn’t get through the aisles of any of the Chinese supermarkets and the stress of being bumped every 100th of a second by a person or their basket, pretty much had me feeling like I was about to develop some kind of agoraphobia. There were a few moments I just wanted to scream but I concentrated on my breathing and managed to keep my cool.
Tony was just grumpy all the way. He hates it when things are last minute or unplanned, I mean REALLY hates it, add his huffing and puffing to the aggravation of dealing with crowds in tiny confined spaces and having a hard time finding what you want because they’ve sold out of it and I know I was doing pretty well coping with it all!
We were running around looking for all our ingredients and finding that certain shops were just plain sold out of them, one shop had something but didn’t have another. That meant multiple queues, lost of pushing and shoving but finally we managed to get everything we needed and when we got home with everything, Tony was back to normal again and I could relax. Thank God for that!
Amazingly, once we had everything, the cooking was smooth, simple and fast. I was in charge of cooking the chicken – broth, rice, sauce, noodle soup. Tones was in charge of the fish and 2 different vegetarian dishes. His stuff was harder – more things to prep and cut whereas all I had to do was boil a chicken but it left me time to go back out to the shops to get some final top up ingredients for his dishes plus a few bags of chips for us to eat while we cooked.
He found better recipes for the vegetarian dishes than the ones we’d been using in the past and so we tried them this year.
Overall, everything actually tasted nice and the best part was that they were distinctly different to each other.
The only disappointment was the chicken. The chicken we found this year was frozen because all the fresh whole chickens were sold out. It didn’t come out so good because it was disintegrating after only 40 mins of simmering in water so by the time we went to plate it, it was looking pretty manky. At least the taste was still there – it was yummy!
New this year was the use of mung bean noodles (who knew they even existed!) and fermented bean curd. I think I’m also finally getting used to the taste of dried oysters. I tell you, 8 years with Tony and he’s still introducing me to new Chinese foods. I don’t think I’ll be able to try them all in my lifetime!
And individually, plus the bowls of long soup and chicken rice which are not pictured:
Why these dishes? Because each dish is a symbol of something that you would like in your life for the upcoming year. The ingredients’ names, shape or colour represent various things such as health, wealth and happiness.
Here’s an example. “Prosperity” in Cantonese is pronounced “fat choy”. Black hair moss is called “fat choy”. So if you want prosperity, you eat black hair moss.
It all seems very superstitious but I have to say, each year we’ve done this, life has actually started to become better. It could be coincidence but if it works, I’m going to keep doing it.
Believe me, it’s worked well enough that if there were a dish to represent lots of fun and holidays, I would’ve made sure that was part of our meal too!
Anyway, whatever you wish for this year, may it come to you just as easily and effortlessly as it was to cook this meal and should you come across obstacles similar to the crowded supermarkets that don’t have everything you want in stock, may you have the calmness and perseverance to get it ALL. And, even if things don’t look quite right (like the chicken), may you find that it’s actually still just as delicious. And lastly, may you continue to explore life, enjoying the familiar and always be discovering something new.
Happy Year of the Monkey 🙂