Nushi bustled in and out of the kitchen carrying plate after plate of food. I helped until I tipped a pile of tangerines into a bowl of rice.
As the Chinese New Year celebrations continue, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the traditional foods of the holiday. Food is an important part of the celebration. Relatives are greeted with the words “Have you eaten yet.” I love all the symbolism served with the foods and dishes.
Serve tangerines for luck and oranges and pineapples for wealth and good fortune. Apples bring wisdom and peace. Pomegranates with their treasure of seeds bring many off-springs.
Walnuts bring happiness for families and peanuts bring health and long life.
Fish is served whole. The center is eaten, but the head and tail are left in tact. It symbolizes a good start and finish to the year. It also means that there will be excess in the new year. Many ingredients are kept whole during new years meals since there is not supposed to be cutting in the new year.
The number of dishes is also important. Dishes are kept in even numbers to ensure double happiness in the new year.
Here are a couple of my favorites – spring roles, a symbol of wealth because their shape resembles a gold bar, and the Tray of Togetherness. It is a tray, usually divided into compartments (usually eight since it is an auspicious number) and filled with sweets and fruits such as kumquats (prosperity), coconut (togetherness), and red melon seeds (happiness).