Chinese New Year is almost upon us and it is one of my favorite times of year. From memory, I believe I celebrated my first experience of Lunar New Year eating Japanese Mochi and Philippino Lumpia while at a Pan-Asian cultural club party. Not exactly accurate but it started me down the right road.
Then my parents moved to the Bay Area and I absorbed the full sensory experience of Chinese New Year. 10 years later, several of them spent in California, Hawaii and Washington State, and I'm surprised that I find myself missing the pageantry of a holiday that culturally doesn't belong to me at all. I know SF's Chinatown is all tarted up in red and lanterns, stores selling plush little horses and all the red and lucky items one goes out to buy this time of year, but New York seems completely unawares.
Its a reminder that immigration patterns are not the same everywhere in this country. Strangely, I also realized that Chinese New Year has become part of my cultural lexicon. I feel a little like the college kid who is in Europe in November and doesn't get to celebrate Thanksgiving. You know its happening but none of the visual clues abound to remind you that this day is going to be a special one.
Not to fear, Friday will be spent eating what I hope is spicy southern food at Yunnan Kitchen.
Its a bit cliche but I'm going to say it anyhow. Events like the Lunar New Year are a great time to go "traveling local". Go out and explore a different culture and food and then come home and sleep in your own bed. No passport or TSA pat down needed, great food and a bit of adventure.
In that spirit here I recommend a read of this great New York times article by Bonnie Tsui on what to look for when you go out to discover your local Chinatown.
A little bit of additional information
This year is the Year of the Horse and according to the internet, and more precisely The Epoch Times this means the following for those born in the years 1918, 30, 42, 55, 66, 78, 90, 02 and obviously 2014. Bottom line, its not a bad year to be born:
The horse ranks seventh among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are highly animated, active, and energetic. They are typically very elegant, independent, gentle, and hardworking.
Their most striking characteristic is their strong self-confidence. Thus the Year of the Horse is a time for all people to go forward confidently in the direction of their goals and dreams, just as the horse gallops at top speed toward its destination.
And finally, via The Huffington Post, here is some information on what to eat while you wander around your local Chinatown. The treat to really go for is Nian Gao (Nin Go in Cantonese), which roughly translated seems to mean Sticky Cake or even Chinese New Years Cake. Whatever it is called, I can't seem to find a very appetizing picture of it on the web. That is rarely an indication of taste so fear not, go out and find some to eat. I certainly will be interesting. I'll also try and get a good picture of some.