Happy Spring Festival! Today’s very special meal I shared with Calvin. We ate stir-fry and dumplings. During undergraduate, I studied abroad in Hong Kong and traveled in Mainland China during the summer. I love celebrating Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, because it reminds me of the first time I celebrated Spring Festival in China.
I had only been living in Hong Kong for one month but my friend invited me to eat with her and her family. I remember receiving lai see, or red pocket, filled with money from older relatives and I remember eating many symbolic foods. I just loved the array of flavors, textures, colors, and smells. It was such a joyous family occasion and I was touched to be made a part of it. I also remember coming home to my school dormitory and finding a plate of New Year Cake covered in saran wrap left for me by my dormitory warden.
Annually since my first Spring Festival experience, I have made a Chinese New Year dinner. The first year back in the U.S. I made the whole spread- a whole chicken, a whole fish, the traditional soup, dumplings from scratch, long-life noodles, etc… Over the years, the dinner has changed with my tastes (I am now vegetarian) and my time (One year, busy with work, I did not have time to prepare a large meal, so I invited some friends over, asking them to bring their favorite frozen Chinese food, and I provided the steamer, fryer, and boiling pot necessary to cook the respective frozen foods).
This year’s meal was a combination of store-bought and locally grown (through my CSA) vegetables stir-fried and seasoned with sesame oil, serrano chili peppers, ginger, white pepper, and soy sauce. It was very nice to eat our celebratory meal in the ceramic dishes made my Jeni, making the occasion feel extra special.