Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year Holiday: Other Important Foods

Oranges, tangerines, and other citrus fruits like this pomelo, a symbolism of abundance, are important foods eaten during Chinese New Year.  These are a local season fruit that we often get here.  It is much like a grapefruit you get in the states. There are different varieties but this one is the only type I've seen here in the village.

This is what the inside looks like.  It's not typically as tart as the Western grapefruits. This particular one was one of the sweetest we've had!

All different types of candy is also a big holiday item.  

Another important food eaten often during this season is the spring roll.  Spring rolls come in different forms, some are the fried and already stuffed with mostly veggies type like you probably know, but another type is the wrap your own like above.  Traditionally the insides are mostly veggies, but sometimes you find meat such a roast duck too.  Here, we made some of our favorite ingredients:  ham, mushrooms, shredded potatoes/red bell peppers, shredded raw cucumbers, lettuce, chopped cilantro, and bean sprouts!  Then there are the condiments we all love--bean paste, hot spicy pepper sauce, and yes, ketchup for Zoe and Holly :)

Other important foods that are often eaten and not pictured is fish (or other seafood).  The word for fish, "Yu," sounds like the words both for wish and abundance.  It is traditionally served on New year's Eve  at the end of the evening meal and never completely eaten so as to ensure abundance throughout the entire year.   It is also eaten whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year.  Fish, served in restaurants here, is often served whole like this--whether it be fried or braised in a brown or sweet-n-sour sauce.

Whole chicken is another because it represents togetherness and rebirth.  It's symbolic of the family and can also signify unity and prosperity as a group.  To make sure that the symbolism is complete, it's a good idea to boil or steam the chicken with the head and feet still attached (which you will nearly always find here) to represent unity.

Pomegranates are also typical for Chinese New Year.  The colorful seeds symbolize fertility and are a bright vibrant red, which represents happiness and repels evil spirits.  They also contain an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C to help you recuperate after the celebrations are over!

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