Chinese New Year Eve's Dinner
Until this year, I have been spending Chinese New Year in Taiwan for the last 6 or 7 years. The festivity in NYC of course can't compare to those in Asia, but I was not going to lower my standard to attend the Chinese New Year Spectacular just to reconnect with my roots. Plus, all Chinese holidays are about food anyway. As long as you have lots of good food, you're all set. So I just needed to have enough people to justify making a full table of dishes. Hence my friend Vicky and her husband Tim became the victims of Albertitto's first Chinese New Year Eve's dinner! Vicky and I grew up together. We are what people would call 青梅竹馬...well sort of...Our moms have been coworkers for a long time, and we played and bathed together many times when we were little. (There are more embarrassing stories that I won't tell here) In any case, it was lovely to reunite again with Vicky in a foreign land after so many years.
Tim and Vicky brought wine and a fruit tart. I made steamed cod with scallions, ginger, and soy sauce; vegetarian ten delights; three-layered pork with brown sauce; beef with pickled mustard greens;black chicken and Virginia Smithfield ham soup with winter bamboo shoots (清蒸鱈魚, 素十錦, 東坡扣肉, 酸菜牛肉絲, 火腿冬筍竹絲雞湯) And we made pork/cabbage dumplings together. Then we played two rounds of Mahjong until Mike just couldn't take it anymore. Surprisingly, Tim, a big old Kansas white boy, played Mahjong better than anyone around the table that night.
I think the best of the Chinese New Year's traditions is the mountains of leftovers. On Monday, which happened to be a holiday, I made rice congee and ate it with the leftover vegetarian ten delights. I was instantly transported back to my childhood days in Taiwan... waking up late everyday during the weeklong vacation after each Chinese New Year's Eve, and enjoying this dish over hot congee in the lazy afternoon, wearing my lounging clothes...I guess this is the true spirit of this holiday -- to enjoy the bountiful food earned after a year of hard work, and to revel in the comfort of knowing your family doesn't have to worry about being hungry. Then, there are enough other holidays sprinkled throughout the year so that another festival and another holiday good eat are always just around the corner, until you realize that yet another year has gone by.