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Lunar New Year's Food Kick Off

Chinese New Years equals to a ton of festivities, but the best part is that it equals a lot of food. The celebration lasts roughly 2 weeks so no worries there's gonna be a lot of food blogging to come for sure. We started our day by bribing the kitchen god Tsao chun, by smearing his mouth with sugar so that he gives a "sweetened" version of our family's deeds or misdeeds to the Heavens. We gave him lots of candy & coke instead. Awesome, more snacks and coke for me later! So aside from having a bunch of awesome looking flowers in the house from going to the fair, there's also a lot of fruits like tangerines, pomelos, etc. that symbolize health, longevity, prosperity and all that good stuff. ya da ya da ya...
Here's a candy tray. This is so that you start your New Year off sweetly. Awesome. There's a bunch of different meanings to the things that are placed inside the candy tray as well. Melon seeds are for happiness, peanuts are for long life, coconut is for togetherness, lotus seeds are for many children, etc.
Here's the candy tray at our house that I was in charge of filling. Isn't the container pretty? It's apparently come antique. I strategically placed the black melon seeds in the middle, surrounded by different types of new year candy all separated by brand & color. These are the for all the guests that will be arriving to visit for the new year.
And here is what you are supposed to eat for the new year -"poon choy." You can't find it in L.A.. It's basically a huge bowl mixed full of everything expensive. We had it ordered at an upscale Chinese restaurant and they delivered it us in a bowl all wrapped up (Picture 1). When you open it, you can see all different layers of delicacy and just plain random stuff all thrown in. In picture 2, you can see abalone, shrimp, sea cucumbers, mushrooms, shallots, tofu, taro, etc. But that's just the top layer! Each layer has more stuff different from the layer above it! You may be thinking this just seems like a bowl of random delicious crap someone decided to throw in everything they owned. And... you would be right if you thinking that. This dish originated when the Last Emperor Pu yi, fled China and ended up in Hong Kong. The villagers that were there were very poor and had nothing to honor and feed the Emperor with. Even though the Puyi no longer had any money, the villagers still respected him. So, basically everyone took out the best stuff they had in their house and threw it all into a big ass bowl to serve to him. This became known as "Poon Choy" as in Pu's dish. I like to tell these fun facts to my family when we eat and they couldn't care less. They just want to eat!
Here's a close up of the dish. Under the layer, there is more lucky items. There are also a lot more meat. There was duck, fish, chicken, vegetables, etc. There was a whole fish underneath which represents togetherness and abundance. The chicken which was complete with head, tail, & feet was to symbolize completeness. There were also uncut noodles which represent long life.
And here is the traditional Chinese New Year dessert- Nian Gao. You cut it up, drench it in egg, & fry it.
And although this isn't a traditional New Year's dessert, we also had this awesome pumpkin dessert. It's filled with yummy paste and sticky rice. My aunt's friend made it. So good!

I know you all must be super jealous at all the stuff I'm eating but I'm actually really sad I'm not back in L.A. right now. Why???? Because of the First Annual LA Street Food Fest. So for all my friends back in L.A., I just wanted to let you guys know there's a food fair coming up this weekend. It sounds like it's gonna be pretty epic. All food truck style! Check it out here! If I were home I'd totally get that VIP. Sounds amazing!

And for my friends in the bay area, I found this awesome food challenge. In 30 mins time you have to finish what is known as the "Killer Whale" Sushi. It's 4 whole pounds of sushi. It looks super fun. If I'm ever in SF, I'm totally going.

Happy Eatings & Chinese New Year/Vietnamese New Year & Korean Thanksgiving! And let me know if any of you go to the Food Truck Fest! I'm super sad I can't make it!

Lunar New Year's Day 2

The Chinese Almanac- Lesson 1