Kung Hei Fat Choi! This week, many Canadians will mark Chinese New Year, a celebration that’s all about food, family, and good fortune.
New Year’s meals are meant for sharing family-style, with each dish representing wishes and hopes for the year ahead. The food is loaded with symbolism, and full of ingredients that that sound like Cantonese words for “luck” or “prosperity.”
For a long life, serve long uncut noodles at the meal. Crescent-shaped pork and cabbage dumplings (called jiaozi, after early Chinese currency) represent prosperity, as do spring rolls and egg rolls which resemble gold bars. The Cantonese word for “lettuce” is a homonym for “rising fortune,” so chicken lettuce wraps are always on the table. Tangerines and oranges, which sound like the words for “luck” and “wealth” are also popular treats. And clucky grandparents love sweet and sour pork dishes, as the Cantonese word for sour means “grandchild.” It’s traditional to end the meal with a steamed whole fish, which represents abundance, and a good beginning and end to the new year.
Although fortune cookies aren’t authentic (legend has it that they were invented in San Francisco), they are a fun addition to the celebration. We love these quick craft fortune cookies made from paper cupcake liners, and these ones made from colourful scrapbook paper. A perfect way wish everyone “chun lian” (or “good luck”) in the year ahead.