It's the eve of the Chinese New Year and we just got home from reunion dinner at my parents place. Even though we have dinner together every weekend, this is simply not the same. It's the dinner of the year! Alot of thought goes into the preparation of every dish. We always have traditional Teochew dishes like steamed fish, steamboat, braised duck, prawns and ngoh hiang.
Since last week, we have been discussing about the menu. Everyone's in a celebrative mood. My father started buying festive goods days leading to the new year until the refrigerators are groaning with so much food. Teochews believe in cooking in excess on this special day.
My younger brother, who's the most talented cook in our family, started preparing his festive specialities days ahead. He cooked dried bamboo shoot with belly pork and prepared the stock and ingredients for steamboat. I contributed two dishes and my older brother brought a mango mousse cake. We had curry chicken, steamed pomfret, braised duck and sweet & sour prawns too. As you would imagine, we ate so much until we could barely walk.
In fact, our feasting started yesterday at CH's family reunion dinner. Each of his sibling contributed a couple of dishes so we were treated to many traditional Hakka dishes like abacus seeds, yong tau foo, wasabi prawns, sea cucumber with pig knuckles and chicken in Chinese wine.
We indulged in so much good food over the weekend, I'm glad I spent this entire morning cleaning the house and washing the sheets. We're not supposed to sweep on New Year's day as the Chinese believe we would sweep all the good luck away. For the sake of retaining our wealth, the broom stays in the closet on the first day of the lunar calendar.
This will be our first new year in our apartment and I actually miss the air of festivity while staying at my parent's where I would spend days sweeping leaves in the yard, pruning the plants and making the garden look attractive. Vendors would come with gifts like hampers, mandarin oranges and bak kwa (barbequed meat) for my parents. The mood was always joyous and infectious. No wonder I was so happy when I was back there this evening.
I actually look forward to visiting again tomorrow morning. It's a tradition for my brothers to visit our parents, dressed in their best and bringing mandarin oranges and good wishes. This time, we will also follow suit. I wonder what I'll be wearing tomorrow...