Feb 6, 2012
A Taste of Time with all things Chinese
LOVE sung by the late Nat King Cole
Today is the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration. Chinese folks here and all over the world would celebrate this day with more feasting of good food with their families and close friends. Being a Christian all my life, I never quite get to celebrate it in full swing. As Chinese New year is also about traditional belief, old chinese culture of filial piety, of respect for others, and alongside with prayers and burnt offerings to the deities of Chinese belief.
Most people think that Chinese belief are a religion. I see this as a practice and a hand-me-down of a set of rules and must-do from one generation to another. Not many people now follow these practices. But some really go to great lengths to practice it.
My mom always tells me "We are Christians. We cannot pray to our ancestors or offer burnt offerings. Just follow the feasting part will do. And have respect for others who are non-Christians. Especailly your inlaws. Do anything they ask of you, minus the prayer part, offering of incense and burning of offerings."
So all these years, I played the role of a dutiful wife to Benny, a respectful daughter in law to my mother in law and an obedient child to my parents. Because I believe that despite being a Christian, I am still very much a Chinese.
My mom told me as the eldest Daughter in law, it is my duty to cook and serve my inlaws. In the begining of the early years, I can't cook at all. And I so thankful that my late father in law was so forgiving and he did all the dishes for me. Along the way, I stood by his side, helping him to prep the dishes and learn a thing or two from the old man.
And every year when I cook and prepare the feast for the family, I am reminded of him. Of how he would cook and prepare the meals. I have fond memories of him. Unfortunately none of his children are interested in cooking or prepping food. I was able to learn much from him.
This year our Reunion Eve Dinner was prepared at my new studio. Since I wanted to keep it 'halal', I chose recipes that does not have wine, pork or lard oil. Here's what I cook :
Because my mom in law was a vegetarian, I had another section just for her. Its a vegetarian steam boat pot set aside with veggies to cook and dip into
Then on the First day of CNY, we had our first meal with my mom in law. And every year, its the same food. A big steam boat pot with Napa cabbage, fish maw, fish balls swimming in chicken stock. Side dishes are braised sea cucumbers, chicken, steamed prawns.
Then we went home to change..and went to my mom's place for dinner. My mom is no longer fit to cook for so many people, so my aunt took the liberty to order food by a catering company.
This is what I mean..Chinese New Year is now all too modern. People stop cooking for families reunion dinners. In due time, no one understands the true meaning of what Chinese New Year was meant to be. Just like Christmas.
Some one ask me why I can be bothered to cook such an elaborate feast to serve the family. I find great joy to do this. Even my mom ask me.."you can just order the food, why labour over it and fuss up the whole kitchen just to cook for us?". Then Benny told her "It gives her great joy and she enjoys doing it. Plus, home cooked food are tastier, less msg, salt too."
Benny knows me too well. And with each feast I cook for the family, its always him who decides what goes on the table. In a way, you can say we planned the menu together. After all, we are feeding families closed to our hearts. The people we loved and continued to love.
This is what I cook on the 7th day of Chinese New Year..also known as the Birthday of Men or 人日. Every year without fail, I would cook and invite my parents, my sister, her hubby and my niece for this. This year, Benny invited his friend and wife and I included my cousin too. Because she stays only a few blocks from our place.
In the dishes shown, 2 of them are Seok Buay's most priced recipes. The ultimate dish was the French Seafood soup.
Today..no feasting. Because its a monday and everyone is either in school or working.
If you want the recipes for what I have cooked, go to Culinary of Fame to get it. Or if you are already a member at my KC Forum, find it there too.
Enjoy and may you have a joyous, happy year of the Dragon..filled with the abundance of Good Healthy, Love, Prosperity and Happiness.