2nd Feb, Chinese New Year's Eve Banquet

Post date: 12-Jan-2011 18:42:41

My heritage is Chinese and obviously, for us, Chinese New Year is a big big thing. All the family used to come together in my Grandmother's house where she would cook up a big banquet for us all, accompanied by the constant clack-clack-clack of mahjong tiles. It was not unusual for us to be 30 or 40 people, maybe more. Off the top of my head I can count 27, and that's only the immediate family (although I'm STILL not sure how I'm related to some of them!) who were definitely there, year after year. Then there were probably some I can't remember plus random distant branches/hangers on. Since it was impossible for everyone to be served at once, we used to squeeze about 8 or 10 people at a time on stools around the marble-topped round table, with a selection of bowls in the middle of the table. There was always a soup, then about 7 or 8 other dishes. As the dishes were emptied, they were refilled, and as we finished our meal, we would get up and leave the table, and someone else would take our place.

Thus my grandmother fed us all. She was an amazing cook, so much so that a man who must have been in his 80s came up to my mother and I a few months ago, and to our total astonishment, told me what a great cook my grandmother was. My mother is over 70, and he used to come to Grandma's house over 50 years ago when my mother was still a teenager. It was amazing that he still recognised my mother (she didn't remember him!), and even more amazing that he remembers my grandmother's cooking, even particular recipes!!

Come and experience a traditional Chinese New Year banquet. The most traditional Chinese New Year dish is dumplings, jiaozi or guo tie, and we will have 3 kinds, meat, fish and veggie. I can tell you that this will take me hours to make, completely from scratch including the pastry, so you'd better appreciate it! Unlike my grandmother I don't have an army of helpers in the kitchen. Then we will have noodles which are also traditional for Chinese New Year, signifying long life, and a whole chicken (well, I'll cook it whole but perhaps I'll chop it up before serving it to you!), which signifies happiness and prosperity. We should also have a whole steamed fish, that's quite important, the Chinese word sounds like abundance.

For dessert we will have Tang Yuen which are another (very different) kind of sweet dumpling, stuffed with tasty fillings, another extremely traditional New Year's dish, cooked in a ginger soup.

Cost will be a minimum donation of £20 to MSF, and £5 in cash on the night to pay for the food. Please mail me with bookings!


Grandma and the house she lived in.....