The year of the goat is upon us! And I could spend the next few lines telling you about what that means. But what I really want to focus on is the most important thing about Lunar New Year…the food.
Most cultures will tell you they are total and complete foodies. Well, the Chinese are EATERS. And we are loud ones on every parameter of consumption (sorry about that). And as with most eaters, I credit my mom for introducing me to the nuances of food and cooking. The difference between a dried longan and a dried lychee. Which types of condiments are appropriate for which dumplings (black vinegar for pot stickers, people!). The benefits of developing a near flirtatious relationship with your local fishmonger. My parents have even dragged me to Chinatown in Havana to have an adventure in exploring what happens to cuisine when you’ve got a trade embargo.
I’ve encountered Chinese food in nearly every place I have visited. From Lahore, Pakistan to the islands of Belize. I love what fusion has come from Hakka migration to India and Jamaica. Don’t even get me started on the merger of Jewish and Chinese cuisines on Christmas day whether you’re at home or at Mile End in Brooklyn (and have you met Molly Yeh?). One of the most important things that my parents imparted to us first-generation kids, is that food, like one’s culture, is a smorgasbord. Go crazy.
So without further to do, I have two little meditations on Chinese food. One on it’s art (of the dumpling that is), and the other on where one dish came from and how far it went. And remember: Chinese New Year festivities officially go on until the Lantern Festival (which lands on March 5 this year); and there are over 300 types of Chinese dumplings and 56 different ethnic groups in China. Just sayin’.