Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (may prosperity be with you)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Living in the Bay Area we get to celebrate a multitude of cultures. We're especially lucky to have such a large Chinese population (and great Chinese Food)!

Now we all know that Chinese Food can be a scary encounter for someone with a food allergy - so much of the food contains peanuts. But do you know why? Here's a little something I discovered when I was reading about the Chinese New Year this morning:

On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, it is customary to eat dumplings, known as "jiaozi" in Chinese, which represent the progression of the years. They are filled and then boiled or steamed. In northern China they make "shui-chiao," shaping them like horseshoes, which is meant to bring riches to those who eat them. Plump half-moon shaped dumplings evoke "yuanbao," a 50 ounce silver ingot. Eating them is supposed to bring wealth and good luck.

Dumplings can contain a piece of sugar, a coin, a peanut or a chestnut, each signifying a different omen. Did you just bite into a sweet dumpling? Happiness will be knocking at your door. Did it contain a coin? Luck will smile on you. Is it stuffed with a chestnut? You'll soon have a boy. Is it filled with peanuts? That's a sign of longevity (in Chinese, peanuts are also called longevity fruit.)

Longevity? Not in our house I'm afraid.

But we'll be eating Chinese food this week without a doubt (luckily we have a great relationship with a local place who know about our food allergy and accomodate us).

Don't want to head out to Chinese Food? Try to make some yourself to celebrate the year of the rat!

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