Sunday, January 29, 2006

"A charming collection of stories, photographs and sumptuous recipes," says TV Week

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
It's the Chinese Lunar New Year beginning on January 29, and time to celebrate. We're fortunate to have a wonderful Chinese-Canadian community in B.C. offering a tantalizing array of foods and ways to honour the occasion.

We caught up with Janice Wong, artist and author of Chow: From China to Canada: Memories of Food + Family (Whitecap, 2005). The book, originally a gift to her family, is a charming collection of stories, photographs and sumptuous recipes.

Growing up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Wong recalls receiving treats along with the shipments of Chinese groceries from Vancouver to supply her father's restaurants.

"At Chinese New Year we always received extra goodies," she recalls. "Fresh coconuts, thick, juicy pomelos, fresh sticks of sugar cane and little red plastic lanterns filled with coconut candies."
Her dad cooked favourite Chinese dishes for the family at New Year's, including non-traditional roasted duck and Dungeness crab, although in Chow, Wong's mom recalls her grandmother's more traditional New Year's feasts of yesteryear.

One New Year's tradition Wong still follows is to put oranges in every room of the house for luck. The small oranges, which resemble gold coins, represent wealth and good fortune. Her family also likes to eat noodles to mark the holiday (the longer the better) for "longevity." As for celebrating, Wong suggests a trip to Vancouver's Chinatown, to watch the parade and feast away.

"It's wonderful to be down in the old Chinatown core," she notes. "So many dragon dances, wonderful colours and costumes, drummers, firecrackers."

If the festivities wear you out, she suggests slipping into a local noodle house for some longevity noodles or meeting friends for dim sum or a traditional banquet. You may also wish to treat the little ones in your life by following a popular Chinese custom.

"Pick up some red money envelopes and put a loony or two inside as a gift to the kids in your circle of friends," Wong suggests.

And don't forget to greet everyone with "Gung Hay Fat Choy!" ("Congratulations and be prosperous!")

-Christina Symons, TV Week, January 28, 2006

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