Chinatown Philadelphia buzzed with energy and sparkled with color yesterday beginning the first day celebration of the 2013 Chinese New Year while ushering in the Year of the Snake. Good Will Wishes exchanged between family and friends, cultural entertainment, including a martial arts demonstration, street vendors selling wares, and some restaurants enjoying half block lines from earlier reservations all interconnected as the Lion Parade wound its way through the packed, narrow streets making frequent, intermittent stops igniting firecrackers en route. Moving to the beat of the drum and clanging cymbals, the ‘Lions’ each donning elaborate multicolored costumes lead the procession culminating the ongoing finales, a buzzing crackle of multiple firecrackers lit in simultaneous orchestration chasing away bad luck demons thus insuring best of luck in the upcoming year. The deafening explosions of firecrackers residual then leaving behind confetti like remnants of red paper bits lining the concrete sidewalks as a reminder of the promised good presence.
As with every celebration, shared food and essential dishes elicit culinary delight from the savory to the sweet, and for the Chinese New Year, each representing a special kind of good luck including matters of health, happiness, prosperity and harmony, many of the common desires shared throughout the world. One of my favorite Chinese New Year Delights includes the glossed golden brown Peking Duck from the Siu Kee Duck House. Picked straight off the window hangings, the duck, expertly butchered to request, then packaged alongside an anise flavored broth.
You could also pre- order the suckling pig at the Duck House, part of the symbolically lucky and abundant meal, wrapped, and packaged as a table centerpiece. One prepared pre-paid suckling remained ready for delivery pick-up by its soon to be lucky host and accompanying guests.
Before leaving early in the day for the Philadelphia Chinatown New Year’s Celebration, we were blessed by the Kitchen God’s with this lovely Sweet Rice Cake with 8 jewels from neighbors originally from the Yangtze region of China. The number eight is the luckiest of all numbers in the Chinese tradition. The eight lucky treasures being dried fruit resemble rich jewels in the perfectly flavored, steamed Sweet Rice treat. Further enhancing the Good Luck, this was the best Sweet Rice Cake I ever had.
In the Chinese New Year Celebration, there are also dumplings to fill us up with Good Luck, noodles for long life and a variety of other food ingredients and promising dishes all offering their own symbolism. One of my favorites accompanying the New Year essentials is a plate of fresh greens heated at the highest temperature in oil, perhaps a bit of added soy sauce then served boiling hot, I mean boiling. Have you ever had these greens? They are so heavenly that I am convinced they must offer luck in someway, should it even be good health. Perhaps.
Another of the New Year favorites that holds omens for Good Luck in the upcoming year is Steamed Fish and I will share a very simple recipe with you on my next Spiced Peach Blog Posting. With a week more of celebrating ahead you still have plenty of time to prepare a dish insuring your own Good Luck in the Lunar Year ahead. Meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy a few photos of Chinatown, and the 2013 Chinese New Year, bringing in the Year of the Snake.
Wishing you Kung Hei Fat Choy and Gong Xi Fa Tsai that is, lots of Prosperity, Money, Happiness and Good Luck! Happy New Year to All!
Philadelphia Chinatown, 2013 Chinese New Year, Year of the Snake, Good Luck, Fun, Food, and Fireworks!