Monday, January 25, 2010

Chinese New Year -- Year of the Tiger --Most popular New Year's dish is Jai, or Monk's food. This dish originated with the Buddhist monks who were vegetarians who went begging door-to-door and were given meager portions of vegetables. From this, being inventive cooks, they came up with the delicious meatless dish. Jai is a play of Chinese words, especially those symbolizing good luck -- Fat Choy (hairlike seaweed) is wealth: Fun see (cellophane noodles) and Chin Ngee (fungus) is longevity; Foo jook (dried bean curd sheets) means blessing every household: Bak Ko (ginkgo nuts) means 100 Grandchildren. Ho see (dried oysters) means good tidings and successful business. Gum Choy (dried flower) means gold and good luck and Hua Sing (peanut) means deceased ancestors. Candied preserved fruit and vegetables together with melon seeds are symbolic of Chinese New Year and signify something -- melon seeds mean many children: and the long vines of squash and melon mean a long line of descendants; lotus seeds means production of sons; carrots, tangerines, kumquats are also prized because, also being round and golden, they signify prosperity-"kum or gum" in Chinese means gold thus golden wealth. Coconuts are hopes for a strong relationship between father and son.

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