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Chinese New Year is more than firecrackers, parades, and dancing dragons. It’s also a time when friends and family gather to celebrate ancient culinary traditions that are as scrumptious as they are symbolic. The new moon on January 31 ushers in the year of the horse, and throughout Asia and other parts of the planet, kitchens will hum with activity as people prepare for 15 days of feasting.
Each day leading up to the full moon that marks the end of the holiday period has its own unique food tradition associated with it; from Mandarin oranges (their golden color represents wealth) and dumplings (another symbol of prosperity) to rice (for fertility) and seaweed (good luck), the vegetarian options are many, but the most fun symbolic food just might be the noodles.
To reap their auspicious potential during the Chinese New Year period, it’s imperative that you refrain from cutting your noodles, which represent longevity. The longer, the better! My favorite long noodle is thin rice vermicelli; it usually comes packaged in little bundles that, after soaking to soften, unravel to reveal extra-long tendrils that work well in many recipes calling for Asian-style noodles.
Before donning your favorite red outfit (for good luck) and digging into one of these delectable dishes, the custom is to greet guests with “gong hei fat choi” to wish them good fortune throughout the year ahead. You can also flex your linguistic muscles and spread more good cheer with “Sang yi hing lung” (may your business prosper) and “Sum seung si sing” (may all your wishes come true).
Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles and Shiitake Mushrooms (pictured in skillet, above)
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.