New Year's Greetings
"Is it not delightful to
have friends coming from distant quarters?"
It's the final week of 1998 - time to get together with friends and family to celebrate the passing of one year and the beginning of another. In China, the official January 1st holiday is overshadowed by the upcoming Chinese New Year's festival. Although the Chinese have used the Gregorian calendar since 1912, they still celebrate the New Year based on the lunar calendar. (In 1999 it falls on February 16th).Traditionally, the dawning of the New Year is also a time to take stock. We all make New Year's resolutions, hopefully even keeping a few of them. Originally, I'd intended to explore Chinese drinking customs in this article. Given the importance of food in Chinese culture, it's not surprising that many customs have also developed around the making and consumption of alcohol. For example, one ancient custom involves guests imbibing by using a pipe to suck liquor from an alcohol-filled jar. It would certainly add a different tone to your holiday festivities!
Instead, I've decided to request your feedback. I recently received an email criticizing a recipe on this site. Basically, the reader felt that the instructions were too vague, and the ingredients too exotic, to be practicable for most people. Deciding which recipes to include is always a difficult decision. My goal is to satisfy both the novice cook and the gourmand, not to mention the avid restaurant-goer who may simply wish to become more informed about Oriental food. This particular recipe was representative of Shanghai cuisine. Of China's four regional cuisines, Shanghai cuisine is the one that tends most toward dishes requiring a specialized knowledge of Chinese cooking and hard to find ingredients. Eel stewed with pork and orchid flowers and abalones are just two of the dishes you might encounter when dining at a restaurant featuring Shanghai cuisine.
Nonetheless, I felt this reader's concerns were valid. In the future, I will try to indicate when a recipe contains ingredients that only a serious connoisseur of Chinese cooking could expect to have. But in the meantime I would like your feedback. What do you think of the recipes I've included so far? Would you like to see a section devoted to recipes for beginning cooks? Do you have any other suggestions? I look forward to hearing from you.
Meanwhile, since it is the holiday season, here are a few cocktail recipes that I think you will enjoy. Gan Bei! (Dry your cup).
This Week's Recipes
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