My quiet little hometown;Ipoh often has a major issue with both vehicle and human traffic during festive seasons! Family and relatives flood into this tiny little city to visit, eat awesome food and make a mess in our city center. The city is put through major makeover; the roads are jam packed, the famous hawkers are out of business by 1pm and our couple of (sad-sized) shopping malls and bars spill out with tourists looking for some entertainment.
Just look at the crowd at our local dim sum joint! We have families fighting for tables!! *tsk tsk*
Every year, our family of 4 have a Chinese New Year routine...it lasts 4 days; starting off from
the eve of New Year.
This is a summarized recap of what we did this year. With lots of food pictures along the way of course.
Be prepared to get drooling guys *grin*
Chinese New Year Eve:
Our annual family reunion dinner.
Most families gather at restaurants out of convenience; especially those with large numbers of siblings and kids, but for us; it's a tradition to 'home-cook' our reunion dinner.To be honest, mom and I aren't great chefs; completely inexperienced in cooking chinese cuisine.. and rarely ever have the opportunity to cook for a table of 10. I love the kitchen, but mom probably only cooks twice a year! Haha. Despite the mess ups and stressful moments, we had fun together throughout the day; marketing for food, preparing groceries, marinating, cooking...getting take-out *cheeky-grin* Hehehe. With the help from a few kind aunts, we had a couple of extra dishes to add to the table. I guess whats most important is the feeling of having the family together for dinner.
First Day of Chinese New Year:
We got up early, got dressed into a fresh set of new clothes and headed down to my Uncles place for vegetarian brunch! Visiting friends and relatives is a big part of the Chinese New Year. It's what we call "Pai nian" in chinese. Married couples give out red packets filled with well wishes to us kids and we thank them with wishes of good luck, health and prosperity. These packets have $ in them; most children think "OOooO free money! New TOY!*LOL.... for me; it's more important to realize the good intentions that came within the red packet than the money itself. I bank mine in...to capture the good luck for myself; and save up the money for rainy days which may come.
Homes are decorated extravagantly with the colours red and gold, fancy trimmings..lights and the lot! We have mandarin oranges and snacks displayed around the house for guests to help themselves as they chat and catch up with family and friends.
At night; mom and dad gives out an annual chinese new year dinner for extended family members at a Chinese restaurant. We usually have 3 tables of 10-11 people. The night ends with karaoke; bloated bellies and many smiles.
Day 2 of the Chinese New Year:
"Visiting" goes on till early afternoon when we make our way to my Aunts house where dad's family gathers for lunch. Everyone cooks a little bit and that creates a huge feast! I really ejoy this annual gathering as it is fun to watch the number of people multiply every time Im home on holiday. My cousins get married... start families, and we now have a ton of cute kiddies to play with. The children are just too cute. I just can't really stand the fact that I'm an *ahem*..AUNT~ to all them. Haha...age is catching up on me; and I'm getting a little paranoid. :P
This year, I made konyaku jelly filled with wine grapes and longans to bring with us. One good tip with konyaku is to cook it with a little vanilla essence to boost its flavour and to use a whisk instead of a wooden spoon to create a smooth jelly mixture. Mom got these rare wine grapes from a whole saler; they gave the konyaku a perfect tinge of sweetness. I filled a couple of jelly molds with cherries to make the platter a little more interesting.
As night falls; we make our way to my grandpa's house, where he sets up a huge buffet for his giant sized extended family! Everyone has at least 5-8 kids! *laughs* I loose track of who's who sometimes...I greet realtives with simply "aunty" or "uncle"; just in case I get it wrong *grin*.
Gambling usually happens as food digests ....by about 9 pm; everyone adjorns to the dinning table for some excitement.
I always feel like going on a major diet as I fall asleep on the second day; but deep inside, I must admit; I know, 'not eating' on Day 3 is immpossible! >.<
The morning starts off with hectic preparation for our CNY "Open House". Mom starts getting stressed out as dawn approaches...and the house begins to fill up...rapidly...as the clock strikes 7.
Friends and family come to visit for great food, expensive wine and good company. We expected a 'turn-up' of about 100; but as the number of people began exceeding 150 around 8pm; dad and I began to panic. There weren't enough seats!...and we ran out of tables! Mom got sis to start off the gambling table early; moved the crowd into the house for entertainment..and cleared the tables for more who came in. Everything smooth sailed from there.
There was a long buffet spread of local delights....satay, popiah and rojakI wish I had made time to eat...sigh* the food looked so good; but I was busy entertaining guests and serving out delicious looking platters.The night was exhausting for sis and I. Mom and dad thought it was worth every penny. It's such a joy to have people coming to celebrate the new year with us. Start it off with a bang~....make a load of noise!, spread some cheer and laughter...*collapses into bed*