Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On the Homefront: 2015 Chinese New Year Table

I had no goats, but I do have little glass sheep (from Pier 1 last year),
so I guess we are celebrating the Year of the Sheep!

Last week was one with many holidays, including the Chinese Lunar New Year.  2015 is the Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram.  Apparently the word translation for this sign of the Chinese zodiac is vague, even in Asia, and different countries often choose either the goat or the sheep/ram as the year's symbol, with China preferring the goat and Japan opting for the sheep.  The goat/sheep/ram is supposedly my sign, but even this is confusing, as the Chinese Lunar New Year does not coincide exactly with our western calendar, so until recently I thought I was born in the Year of the Monkey!  Even so, I am happy to have any excuse for a party, so we celebrated the day with a Chinese meal.

The zodiac year in which you are born is supposed to be your unluckiest year, and ours did start off in an unusual way, as the restaurant was so busy that they accidentally handed my husband someone else's order as well as our own.  He did not realize this until he got home, so we ended up with more food than we ordered.  I do not know if this is a good or a bad sign for us, but our apologies to Bailey, whoever you are, as you seem to be the unlucky one this year!  At the very least our table was auspicious, with lots of red for luck and gold for wealth!

Sunburst Medallions Table Runner and placemat from Pier 1 last year; square white dinner plate from HomeGoods last year; red Waechtersbach bowl from Pier 1 decades ago; stainless steel flatware; red lacquer chopsticks and red wooden chopstick rest; red napkin; clear water and stemmed beverage glasses.

Lots of lucky red for the centerpiece -- a red candle surrounded
by red foil-wrapped milk chocolate Lindt Lindor truffles.

Gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins and white chocolate Lindt Lindor
truffles for prosperity in the new year!

My interpretation of the Tray of Togetherness for the new year.

Tangerines for luck and wealth in the new year.

As I mentioned earlier, we got Chinese takeout for our celebratory meal, and tried to include foods that have some association with the new year (for example, rice symbolizes abundance, long noodles represent longevity, dumplings bring wealth, shrimp are symbols of happiness and good fortune, etc.).  Even though a whole fish is considered essential to the meal, however, I still cannot bring myself to serve a dish that stares back at me!

Chinese New Year Menu:

Sizzling Rice Soup
Pan Fried Dumplings
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Mu Shu Shrimp
Vegetable Lo Mein
Steamed Rice
Sesame Balls

I've already described all of the sweet foods on my table, which are said to bring a sweet life to the coming year.  The sesame balls, which are deep-fried and expand while cooking, are also representative of the way our luck should expand as the year progresses!

From Ooopic

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!  Wish me luck in this Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram, because it looks like I am going to need it!

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