Happy Chinese New Year's!
January 25, 2020 9:35 AM   Subscribe

And now let's eat!

Then after New Year's do some dim sum. Don't have so much time? Ok, quick and easy, then.
Got time? Perhaps some Cantonese roast pork. Or baozi?

And that gentle comfort food: Steamed egg
posted by storybored (34 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post and Happy CNY!
posted by chrono_rabbit at 10:14 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

So timely! I'm just about to go shopping because my parents freaked out about the coronavirus and canceled our restaurant reservations, even though we're in the U.S.

So we're doing some kind of potluck thing at my apartment where I'll make the 清蒸全鱼, 白切鸡, and some vegetables, my mother's younger sister is bringing the 年糕, etc.

It's going to be a madhouse. Wish me luck.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:18 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]

Gentle reminder that many cultures beyond China celebrate lunar new year; it's not "Chinese ".
posted by smoke at 2:26 PM on January 25 [14 favorites]

In my family we typically stuff ourselves on thit ko, and banh hoi.

Chuc mung nam moi!
posted by smoke at 2:36 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Gentle reminder that many cultures beyond China celebrate lunar new year; it's not "Chinese ".

Oh, interesting. The Islamic and Jewish calendars are lunar, I know, but they are not in sync with what I have always known as the Chinese calendar. What would be the appropriate way to refer to this calendar, given that there isn't only one lunar calendar?
posted by bardophile at 3:27 PM on January 25

I don't want to make a big derail, but "lunar new year" is more inclusive.
posted by smoke at 3:42 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

I went to the Sydney Lunar New Year market last night and ate dumplings, dragons beard candy, cane juice and durian. It was lovely. And it even rained a little, which was even better.
posted by lollusc at 3:54 PM on January 25

(I know a fair number of people didn't go because of coronavirus fears, but I think all the confirmed cases locally are way out of town in the suburb where I live, so surely by going to the market I was getting away from it if anything. Also a lot of people there were wearing masks but hard to know whether they were for bushfire smoke or illness prevention.).
posted by lollusc at 3:57 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

Thank you smoke for the reminder that other countries (Korea, for example) also celebrate the lunar new year.

새해 복 많이 받으세요!
posted by needled at 6:42 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]

yo happy lunar new year everyone! i don't really celebrate it other than going to public spaces and enjoying the performances. the open house season for friends starts now though, for the next two weeks in our case.
posted by cendawanita at 6:54 PM on January 25

And of course we had tteokguk to celebrate - well actually the version with dumplings. Often when referring to 설날 (Lunar New Year) tteokguk, people actually mean the kind with dumplings, not just rice cakes.
posted by needled at 6:58 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

Gong hei fat choy!

We had our family dinner early to line up with a Birthday celebration. The Birthday Boy did not choose a very traditional Chinese (Canadian) Lunar New Year menu, but we did end the meal with pomelo.

Dinner conversation centred around a new bao restaurant that's opening soon nearby. There are no Chinese bakeries in our city and no traditional dim sum (current options are a hole in the wall family run restaurant with a verrrry limited menu or - twice a year at New Years and Moon Festival - the giant chain buffet restaurant of dubious quality), so we've been pretty excited to learn more about it. This week we finally got some concrete information, and uh... it's a little more froo froo than we expected. Like, zero-waste, on-site composting, compost used to grow micro-greens in a cultivator on display to patrons, organic produce & dairy, cocktail bar, vegan "pork" bao made from banana peels level of froo froo. We're still gonna go (okay, most of us will - Birthday Boy noped out once he heard about the banana peels), but it isn't what we were hoping for.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:59 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

I don't know if I've ever mentioned before, but for our major cultural holidays, it's been customary for decades now for various companies to put out holiday ads which are essentially short films. I look forward to them and here's a list of some of the CNY ones for 2020. And here's a collection of such ads from the countries with this practice. For Tet and the Korean New Year, I'm not sure. Probably Vietnam, because the short film ads feel like such a Southeast Asian thing for now.
posted by cendawanita at 7:46 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

I don't want to make a big derail, but "lunar new year" is more inclusive.

Wikipedia has an article on the many lunar new years, but this particular lunar new year is the Chinese one.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:04 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

Naw, the wiki itself notes that yes, it's based on the Chinese unisolar system, but other than Japan, which moved its new year to match the Gregorian calendar, the respective celebrations should be seen inclusively. It's also an awkward defence, because in no small part it's a legacy of Chinese imperialism, so there's a lot of reason to assert this difference.
posted by cendawanita at 9:22 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Ask a Tibetan if they are celebrating Chinese New Year. Let's try to be inclusive.
posted by smoke at 9:57 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

My parents showed up with about five other things for me to cook, three of had to be cooked because they had ritual significance. We planned to meet at 1730 and we actually ate at 2000.

My sister's boyfriend brought a bottle of whiskey. So we opened that. Then he and my Dad started toasting each other.

I was a bit taken aback, because I've never really known my father to drink. It turns out he can put away half a fifth of 40% ABV with no apparent effect except his toasts start to get repetitive.

Or maybe that's just be what happens when there are only two people drinking and they toast their way through a fifth of whiskey.

Oh, also, I might have a leak under my sink. Or, at least, I had water of unknown origin spilling out onto the floor. So my parents started looking through and clearing out the junk under my sink.

They eventually turned off my water supply. Luckily, I keep a few gallons in old juice bottles in the corner, so I finished cooking with that. I guess tomorrow I'll see whether I had a leak, or just really need to splash less.

Looking back over what I've written, it doesn't sound like I had a good time, but I really had a good time. We're already wechatting about doing New Year's at home again next year.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:22 PM on January 25 [17 favorites]

[Joe in Australia, this is not the right time or place for the argument you're trying to have. Please drop it.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:05 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]

The animals of the zodiac also changes according to the culture: twitter thread from a Malaysian history account so it'll be Southeast Asian-centric. (it's a year old, so apparently I can't request for a threadreader to unroll, so apologies)
posted by cendawanita at 7:39 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]

We've got a friend visiting from Korea since there's a long enough holiday to travel internationally during the lunar new year celebration. They brought hangwa, including the hard to find old school version made only with rice syrup as sweetener. And then we went to eat Sichuan food for dinner.

Saehae bok mani badeusaeyo*
Selamat tahun baru
Chúc mừng năm mới
Gong hay fat choy
Xīn nián kuài lè

*(for the majority of my childhood this was the only full sentence I could say with any confidence in Korean, and the new year phone call to my grandma would consist of "happy new year" and "I love you" and then I would shove the phone into my parents' hands and run away to another room.)
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:17 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]

cendawanita, I loved learning about the Malaysian and Thai versions. I'll tell my friends that they were born in the Year of the Big Snake and the Year of the Second Snake!
In both Malaysia and Thailand, the year of the dragon (naga) was sometimes referred to as a "big snake" (ular besar in Malay), in which case the actual snake year becomes the "second snake" (Malay: ular sani, Cham: ula neh)
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:22 AM on January 26

Along with the sheep/goat and rabbit/cat swaps mentioned in the thread cendanawita linked, in the Vietnamese zodiac the ox is the water buffalo instead! I think we came out pretty well all around, but I have to admit I’m slightly jealous of people born in the Year of the Mousedeer.
posted by bettafish at 8:32 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]

I received a pretty big packet from a professor containing crispy pork floss! (Bee Cheng Hiang of course ;p). And a reminder email from dad on Friday to send out greetings.
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:54 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]

新年快樂!恭喜發財! 身體健康!

To all my bros in Australia and elsewhere, I'm Chinese and have no problem code-switching between the various ways to refer to the Lunar New Year when I'm amongst various groups. If I'm talking with another Chinese person, we're not saying "Happy Chinese New Year!" to each other, and none of the usual litany of phrases (such as the one that translates to "Happy New Year") mention the word China or Chinese or even anything moon-related, really - it's just the new year, the generic greetings for health and prosperity don't mention anything specifically Chinese about that health or prosperity, and so forth.

Whenever I do specify that it's "Chinese New Year," I'll mention that as a reference to the lunisolar calendar timing and the various cultural traditions associated with that (such as to explain why I'll be out of the office for CNY Eve), because I'm Chinese American and it's part of my heritage cultural identity. But I'm not about to insist to people of other Asian heritages who also celebrate the lunar new year (because of historic imposition from... China) that they also must refer to it as the Chinese New Year - it's just the Lunar New Year. Doesn't hurt anyone to be more inclusive, rather than less. Frankly, it's ridiculous to see anyone incorrectly insist that "this" "particular" lunar new year is Chinese only. And those are my two ingots. 🙂
posted by rather be jorting at 11:06 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]

Happy new year.
Pixar just put out a rather adorable bao cooking video.
posted by bouvin at 11:59 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]

The way I figure it, if you’re a non-celebrant you’re welcome to refer to all LNY celebrations as the Chinese New Year — as long as you also wish people a Happy Italian New Year or Merry Anglo-Saxon Christmas! If that sounds absurd to you because people around the world have taken those cultural traditions and made them their own, even if they were originally imposed by colonizing forces centuries to millennia ago, then, well...
posted by bettafish at 1:12 PM on January 26

"Lunar New Year" is more inclusive, but in a better world I would go farther and simply call the holiday "New Year". Because the reason why most non-Western countries initially adopted the Gregorian calendar is because of European colonialism (and the modern calendar system is only about 440 years old, which is honestly not that long ago). But, the Gregorian calendar is now accepted as a global standard, so I'm also not saying to completely throwaway the calendar system either. On the other hand, I feel LNY is just as valid of a new year as the one on January 1st (or any other calendar system's new year), so there's no real reason January 1st is THE new year other than the initial forced adoption and eventual acceptance as a standard measurement of time.

And I want to say people should be smart enough to know by conversational context and time of year which "New Year" they are talking about (and there way more than just two new year's). But I also have a sinking feeling that if some attempt were made in the US to call LNY or another new year tradition simply "New Year's Day" some people would start to see that as a "War on New Year's".
posted by FJT at 1:44 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]

I call it "new year's" without qualification, and intend to do so until people start wishing me a happy Gregorian new year.

In practice, most of them just wish me a merry Christmas.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 3:33 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Although it's unfortunate how much of this thread has become a discussion on English translation.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 3:37 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Let's rerail!

Looking forward to going through more of the links in the FPP. Love The Woks of Life - it's been a blog that's come up frequently for me whenever I've googled for recipes for favorite Chinese dishes to try making myself. We're living in a pretty neat age of blogging and consumer DSLR access where it's easier than ever to find recipes online with sumptuous accompanying photographs (and sometimes how-to videos!), which sort of crowdsources the culinary knowledge that previously you'd have to rely on more immediate physical resources or education to have. Too many favorite dishes to count.

As for what I've personally eaten this weekend, a perennial fave: the green bean noodles my parents cook (a.k.a. cellophane or glass noodles). Great with slices of sauteed lap cheong and diced scallions and probably a bunch of other things I'm forgetting. And the requisite fresh round fruits! I've been really partial to apples lately, so it's fun having a bonus culturally-related excuse to eat them more often. 🍎
posted by rather be jorting at 6:44 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I love Woks of Life because they publish in English, but their recipes still resemble what I remember of my parents' and grandparents' cooking.

Usually when I ask my parents for a recipe, I'll get a pretty good qualitative description but absolutely no measurements. How much? Not too much. See what you like. How long? Until it's done. Taste it when it looks right.

I am descended from engineers, doctors, and scientists. You'd think I could get a quantitative answer sometimes.

But instead I go look it up on Woks of Life. Lifesaver, that blog.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:37 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

Lol ok, I have to ask, re: glass noodles. Were anyone else obsessed with sticking them to the walls when I was a kid? Just me??

If anyone is looking to make some pineapple tarts, I impart unto you two tips: blend the first batch of pineapples with pulpy orange juice (subsequent batches you can use the same liquid you've produced), and instead of milk powder for the dough, use condensed milk.

Also, is anyone like me, and into the horoscopes? I like these ones from Joey Yap. And from Phillipines, Marites Allen did their 2020 readings in a handy chart too
posted by cendawanita at 10:05 PM on January 26

Yee Sang!
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:10 PM on January 26

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