Sunday, January 22, 2012

Xīnnián kuàilè! Happy New Year!

Legend has it that the Moon Rabbit fell in love with a princess of the Kingdom of Woo, and it descended from the sky to, appropriately enough, woo her. The Moon Rabbit lavished upon his love many gifts, including a jade cut into the shape of a paperweight, a sapphire fashioned like a comb, and a bathrobe with inlaid diamond snowflakes. The princess cast her eyes demurely upon these gifts and protested that the Moon Rabbit did her too much honor, whereupon they totally got it on, please don't ask me how. When the time came for the Moon Rabbit and his princess to return to the moon, their children -- again, don't ask me how -- vowed to celebrate their parents' love every spring with a festival. And that, dear readers, is about as far from the true origins of Chinese New Year as I could manage. You're welcome.

Back in the real world, Boston is below freezing, driving above 40 mph is dangerous, and the howling winds of death come from every direction.


But I had been invited to go to a Chinese New Year celebration, and contacted Boyfriend as soon as I heard "potluck" mentioned. He, obliging gentleman that he is, instantly set to work with some garlic, chili paste, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and pork loin.

Leave in slow cooker for 10 hours.

At the party, there were so many people that it was a fire hazard, and everybody brought food, which is a health hazard, unless high blood pressure is suddenly a good thing now. We stuffed ourselves with (deep breath): pork loin lettuce wraps, homemade kimchi, homemade bread, scallion pancakes, beef with green peppers, fried rice, noodles, cranberry cake, pecan pie, grapes, strawberries, and, because I never learn, brie. Needless to say, my lactose intolerant self was like a ninja fart machine several hours later at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I'm just classy that way.

The scallion pancakes were prepared as I watched, and the kitchen was like a factory. A group had been assigned moon cake creation, and one mixed the dough, another rolled one layer, yet another made one more layer, and the last person stuffed the pork into the dough and formed it into a bun. Said buns were then baked in a little oven. When asked what traditional recipe this moon cake came from, our hostess replied, "YouTube dot com." Obviously.

Scallion pancakes: it takes at least five before the heart attack.

No celebration is complete without one animal (that is not being consumed, of course) and perhaps a child. The little girl pictured below was enamored of Henry the Boston Terrier, seen here with his winter hoodie:

No dogs or children were harmed during this photograph.

People asked me if we celebrated Chinese New Year in the Philippines, and I said, I'm sure the Chinese do, only to find out this morning via Skype that the entire country apparently takes a day off to celebrate the joyful love between the Moon Rabbit and the Princess of Woo. Book my flight home, please. I hear a lechon calling my name...

新年快乐! Happy New Year!