Sunday, January 29, 2006

新年快樂﹗ 恭喜發財﹗

Welcome The Year of the Dog! Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year celebration, which will continue for 15 days. Here in Taiwan this means that the city of Taipei has emptied out as families disperse to the central and southern portions of the island, the banks and post offices are closed (how weird is that, huh?), many businesses are shut down for the duration, and fireworks are exploding all over the place.

Last night I had the honor of joining Natari and her family for their traditional 年夜飯 - New Year's Eve family dinner. Present were Natari, her mom, her two brothers, their wives, and their four children (two boys, two girls). Nat's mom had prepared quite a feast, I'm sure with help from her daughters-in-law (as I understand it, Nat does not cook). For this traditional feast certain items are required, including a whole chicken (and I do mean whole) and a whole fish (I think it was a piranha, look at those teeth!) - click the photos for the larger versions. At this meal the diners are allowed to eat only the meat on the top of the chicken and the fish, no turning it over allowed. The remaining portion is kept for the next day, when the family eats all the leftovers (unless they go to Japan, like Nat's family did!). All the food was tasty, and I really don't know what some of it is called. OK, well, I wasn't too fond of the dried fish roe, that was too fishy tasting for me. But there was a dish of small pork ribs, some veggies, some soup made with dried scallops and abalone, and a dish that is called 佛跳上 "Buddha Jumped Up" - so tasty that even Buddha jumped up to get it. We had some marvelous wine, a red that Nat had carried back from France two years ago and a nice white. Everyone toasted each other and spirits were merry.

At Chinese New Year, the children are giving red envelopes filled with cash, and Nat's mom handed out these gifts to each of her grandchildren, as well as her children. When she presented me with my own envelope, I began to cry. It was such a sweet gesture, to include me as a family member, and it meant so much to me. 聖誕節我爸爸不但沒送我禮物也沒寄卡片。我的心非常難過。 所以娜姐媽媽當我媽媽讓我覺得很開心。

So, I have a week off school, and hopefully I won't just be stuck at home with nothing to do. Jet Li's new movie is playing, and I'll go see that for sure, and I'll probably head to Wu Lai with friends one day. And......I'll answer all the e-mail I need to answer! I will, I will, I will......


Ranger Steve said...

I'm really sorry about the situation with your dad :( But that was really sweet of Nat's mom to include you like that! The teeth on your fish look frightening!

velvet said...

佛跳上? Over here, it's 佛跳墙 "Buddha jump over the wall" (Yeah, they do call it that in English.) Hmm... I have to admit your explanation made good sense though. haha

Glad to know you got to enjoy a reunion dinner (we call it 团圆饭 over here)! =)

By the way, did you get my card?