The Chinese New Year begins on the first New Moon of the year, which is this January 28th. Being the Fire Rooster Year, the symbol itself of practical organization and calculated risks, this year also brings a higher level of clarity and intuition (#TrustYourGut).
But food symbology is the cornerstone of the celebrations. You might say you love Chinese food but you truly know what you should eat during these festivities in order to bring you luck and prosperity? Cut the crap (and crepes) and order the following 7 dishes if you want to celebrate in grand style this New Chinese Year 2017 and make good wishes! The best Chinese restaurants where you can try these delicacies are: Macau Dim Sim (Oeiras and Lisbon), Dim Sum, Estoril Mandarim, Dinastia Tang, The Old House, Mr. Lu, Grande Palácio Hong Kong.
“You might say you love Chinese food but you truly know what you should eat during these festivities in order to bring you luck and prosperity?”
#1. Dumplings, Jiaozi | Wealth and fortune
This is a very popular dish in Northern China. Often shaped to look like boat-shaped silver ingots, an ancient Chinese currency, are symbolic of prosperity and wealth due to their auspicious shape. Usually vegetables and pork-filled, they should be eaten only with soy sauce and garlic. More pleats, the better as they’re a strong sign of prosperity.
#2. Long noodles, Mian tiao | Health & longevity
They’re the most known staple in Chinese cuisine but these longer-than-usual noodles should be served uncut since the long size means longevity, either stir fried or in a broth. It’s forbidden breaking them as it’s equivalent to cutting one’s life.
#3. Whole chicken or duck, Jirou & Ya | Family unity, fidelity and good marriage
They should be served both with their feet and head attached due to its association with completeness and family unit. They go through a 3 hour cooking process until the skin is like thin paper.
#4. Whole fish, Yu | Wealth and fortune
The word fish in Chinese sounds like abundance and eating it means bringing fortune in the coming year. The head and tail must be intact as it represents a good beginning and ending for the coming year. It’s crucial to eat the fish in a certain way: it should be the last dish of the meal and there should be some left over, since it represents surplus for the year.
Related post: 3 top tips to celebrate 2016 Chinese New Year in Lisbon
#5. Glutinous rice cake, Nian gao | Prosperity
This is the official New Year’s cake. The name Nian gao is related to the phrase nian nian gao sheng which means “increasing prosperity year after year”. This dish helps the eater climb the social ladder. Hence, rice is one of the 12 symbols of sovereignty.
#6. Sweet rice balls, Tangyuan | Family reunion and togetherness
This is one of my favorite desserts all time! The roundness of the rice balls signifies a complete circle of harmony and unity within the family. They are served in a soup and traditional fillings include sesame paste (fave), red bean or peanuts.
#7. Mandarin oranges and tangerines, Juzi | Luck and success
Their names sound like good luck and gold in Mandarin. You won’t order them from the menu since they’re usually offered after your meal for free. No need to ask for them. It’s a great sign when they come with the stems and leaves as they represent longevity. You shouldn’t eat them in fours as it’s associated with death.
Keep in mind (!)
On a last note, sweet food is mandatory in the wishing of a luscious life in next year. The number of dishes is also relevant: always 6, 8 or 10, which means smooth, getting prosperous and perfect, respectively. Whatever you do during these festivities, avoid eating these 2 things: tofu (white color related to bad fortune and death) and porridge (associated to poverty). Color is often symbolic and red, orange, green or gold foods are considered particularly auspicious.
- White – bad luck, death, loss, mourning
- Red – happiness, purity, celebration, health, luck
- Orange – happiness, luck
- Gold or yellow – happiness, prosperity
- Green – luck, harmony
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