Happy Lunar New Year 4708: Year of the Tiger

GUNG HEI FAT CHOY!

As mentioned in the previous post, the Lunar calendar dictates that the first day of the year 4708 begins on what we who follow the Gregorian calendar like to call February 14th. The symbolism of the new year factored into why I chose to launch this site now. I hope this site takes on food issues as a tiger would – with ferocity and determination – while growing with the same agility. I also hope that the new year brings with it lots of prosperity!

Every year, my extended family, on both sides, gather to mark the end of the previous year while welcoming the new one. These celebrations involve lots of delicious and unique foods, as pretty much all Chinese holidays and ceremonies do. The types of foods differ from region to region in China, as each area and sometimes family features its own specialties that make use of the ingredients native to the area. Both sides of my family are from Guangdong province, outside the city of Canton, in southern China. So for us, that means less emphasis on the noodles, hot pots, and fried foods of the North, or the spicy dishes of other areas in southern China, and more savory sauces, rice dishes, and sweet flavors.

From special meat-filled dumplings

The lunar calendar dates back to

As we stepped out of the apartment building to start the drive home, my mother and I heard the loud beginning drumbeats of the lion dance. It’s already midnight?!, I thought to myself, excitedly. Yes! I walked the few short yards from my grandmother’s doorstep and promptly began to scope out the best spots from which to photograph the action. Dozens of Chinatown residents (plus some late-browsing outer borough people) of every age and size were already gathered in a large loose circle around the two dueling lions that were just beginning their slow, cautious, stalking dance around one another. Big eyes, colorful scales cascading down their undulating heads and bodies, which moved to the slowly escalating drumbeats … it was a tense, yet electric scene. Masked disciples danced ahead, banging cymbals and waving at or getting all up in viewer’s faces.  Eventually, the lions finally got to the business of their fight and show of power.

It was a chilly night, but who could tell in the presence of all this alpha male lion and teenage energy?

Young and old, the community came out in the cold to dance, drum, reenact the legend of the lions facing off.

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