Monday, 2 February 2009

In The Mood For Chinese New Year

Although I am a semi-senior adult now, I am still looking forward to Chinese New Year. I dunno why. Perhaps the whole meaning of Chinese New Year is the 'thrill of waiting". This festival seems to be the most joyful holidays kids wait for it whole year long. New year signifies a brand new beginning. During my childhood days, I have to wait till Chinese New Year to put on new clothes. And that was also the only time I got to see my late grand-uncle who came back to stay with us for few weeks once in a year. I love this grand uncle very much as he has never failed to bring back lots of goodies for us each time he came home. I especially missed our daily trips to coffee shops having dim sum and tea for breakfast every morning. Perhaps all children of our days have very simple mindset. We love new years simply because during this time of the year, we get to reunion with people we love, we get to indulge in those "forbidden things on normal days" such as icy drinks, cookies and candies. We get to play cards with small bets-"the forbidden game on normal days". We get to eat, sleep and be jollied. I really cherish all the fond memories of childhood new year. Though things are not the same anymore as I am an adult now, I am always making an effort to preserve that sort of child-like new year mood. Year by year, I am still in search for the mood for Chinese New Year, like a child did.
Due to the economic slump, the festive feel was a little sombre this year. Anyway, I have endeavoured to get into the warm mood for new year by getting all sorts CNY-related items to usher in the New Year.
A day before eve of CNY, I took a trip down to Petaling Street's flower market. It has been customary for us to get some fresh flowers to decorate the house. During my childhood days, my mom usually bought assorted species of chrysanthemums and I will put these flowers into a vase and placed it on the dining table. After grown up only I realised chrysanthemums are actually meant solely for mourning and prayers. No wonder you don't see lovers giving chrysanthemums to their valentines. I wonder why my mom never have "pantang" on all these taboo. Perhaps that was the cheapest and most lasting flowers which our family could afford. Anyway, my mom's easy-going personality makes her more adorable in the eyes of her daughter.
I have gotten some "Pussy willow" which is a typical Chinese New Year plant. As we must have the auspicious red colour to usher in the New Year, I bought another stalk of this "annonymous" plant with red seeds which cost RM28 per stalk. As I like it simple, so I decided not to hang the plants with any dangling ornaments, I don't want to make it look like a Christmas Tree. The multi-colour pussy willow and red seed plant made a very nice combination.
It wasn't new year without candies, lo kam (mandarin oranges) and ba-kua(dried meat/dragon meat). I filled up the big candy bowls with lots of sweets. Obviously Elgin and my nephews were extremely happy since they would be the benefactors. Better than Christmas it seemed.

I prefer the mini sized tangerines to the mandarin oranges. They are sweet-soury juicy and seedless. But I daren't eat a lot as it is very "damped" causing lots of wind in stomach and bad for one with gastric problems. Anyway, I have kept lots of skin for my friend to make garbage enzyme.
This is my favourite brand for BBQ dried meat. The logo is an aeroplane. The founder is from Singapore. The shop is located at Petaling Street. It has the right chewiness, sweetness minus the oily smell. I prefer the meat in slices than the minced type. I found this shop more hygenic as compared to other "chap-pa-lang" brands which the BBQ was done at the open air of a polluted city. I saw a long Q under hot sun outside Kiew Brothers. I always think that one who is a real ba-kua connoisseer will not go for Kiew Brothers as the meat is so very sweet and oily. The oil smell in particularly pissed me off. When I was young, we only get to eat ba-kua once in a year during CNY only. My parents will hide them on the top-shelf and open it during CNY or else they would be finished by us three little vultures. Unlike those days, this item is now available throughout the year and we always have several packets as gifts from friends and relatives. But the eagerness to savour this BBQ meat is no longer present due to the abundance-ness. Sigh...

It would not be called CNY without cookies and candies. Hampers and gifts are also common. I always think that this is a clear indicator of the economic condition. When times are good, hampers are aplenty. When the times are bad, hamper sizes shrunk and the liquor on the top will normally be substituted with Ribena or Sparkling Juice. Consider yourself lucky if you still received hampers in this doom & glooms period.


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