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盆菜 -- the traditional Chinese New Year cuisine with Hong Kong characteristics has become more popular in the city during the recent years.



盆菜 -- which means layers and layers of different kinds of food/veggie stacked up and served in a huge basin-like pan has first been made in the rural villages in New Territories for centuries during New Year time. But now it has penetrated into almost every household in the metropolis.

盆菜 has a long history.

The legend says that abut 900 years ago, when the last Song emperor and his retainers fled south into present day New Territories of Hong Kong from the Mongol invaders, they were hungry and asked the villagers there to fix them some food.

The villagers offered the best what they had and arranged the food all inside a basin-like big pan to cook. After the meal, the emperor thanked the villagers for the delicious food. That was how 盆菜 originated.

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Interesting. I have eaten many times but I just don't like it. I don't like the ingredients they use like "pig skin", "white carrot", fish balls etc.

And because they put all in one pan all taste the same to me.

We always have many left-overs, so I'm forced to eat the same thing even after 2 days but then served as a dish beside the fish and the vegetables. And of course by then all the "good stuff" are already gone so only things like "pig skin", dried "foo yoc" are left.

These last years I haven't eaten this on Chinese new year but on other occations like birthdays. The last time was a long time ago so I'm very pleased with it. Just not my kind of food.

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Usually the traditional food served in the festival does not taste good.

Mooncake in Autumn Festival or "Jun" in Dragon Boat Festibal, Turkey on Thanksgiving Dinner Table,....etc all just taste okay.

By eating what our ancestors used to eat during the festivals, we are just upkeeping our tradition.

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Mindlessly guzzling the same yakky old munge that we've put up with for centuries. Interesting point. Turkey isn't really very nice, is it? unless you get the darker meat. And there's lots of nice Chinese food around, so why bother with bits of fat and clammy rice wrapped in a leaf, or solidified bean paste cased in sweet starchboard?

As for niangao and tangyuan: this sort of goop should be banned outright. How can anyone claim to like it when it's obviously not digestible?

The problem is that Chinese families don't really celebrate their festivals in a fun way. There are no presents, no games, nothing for kids to do, and they don't even get sloshed: the only available activities are watching the telly and playing majiang. While a-ma slaves away in the kitchen preparing the right holiday gunk to remind us what it is we're supposed to be celebrating. That's why the dishes are needed.

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Mahjong is great fun to many people. And kids get red packets containing money (great fun). And people who have to go to other places to earn a living get days-off so that they can return home to be with their families. In poorer places, people get to eat better and dress up nicely during the spring festival.

Although I find the festival boring (and it is scary/embarrasing for older single people to be given red packets), I think it may be quite meaningful to some people.

And I do like mooncake and sticky rice dumpling wrapped in leaves (盆菜 is not my cup of tea though).

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It's the lack of imagination. Why not put some youxi wan ka in a kid's hongbao, or a marks and spencers voucher? Why not play monopoly or even snakes and ladders instead of mah bloody jong the whole time?

But I don't want to rain on anyone's parade. Here's hoping everyone on the forum had a great CNY. gongxi facai!!

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Well, niangao in the part of US I reside is really a hot sell. A small piece (they simply call it "gau" over here) is sold for US$6.50 (probably cost less than $0.50 to make).

I would agree that is is quite indigestable. In fact, the mochi (same kind of ingredient) that Japanese eat during the New Year's Time always resulted in 2-3 fatalities every year because old folks got it clogged in their throats.

But regarding fun for kids, I think Chinese New Year is more enjoyable for them than X'mas.

They got Lion's Dance and different kinds of show in the Chinatown for the whole day with people from various ethnic groups attending.

For X'mas, the kids all receive gifts but only with long lines of people queuing at Walmart's cashier from Dec 26 to Jan 5 to return them.

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> They got Lion's Dance and different kinds of show in the Chinatown for the whole day with people from various ethnic groups attending.

Well yes that does sound fun. Here in Taiwan it's just a family thing. Everyone "goes home" (ie goes and stays with their inlaws) and plays mahjong. I've heard there's a festival where people throw fireworks at each other. Apparently you wear a crash helmet so it's obviously perfectly safe.

What happens in other places? Is it only Taiwan that's boring? My mum and dad were in Singapore a few years ago, and expected a "dragon parade" (my mum's words), but found nothing celebratory at all. But they were tourists and perhaps didn't know where to look?

China itself?

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HK is better. At least you could shop (Sogo didn't close at all this year). :)

And this year there were pre-CNY flower markets, firework display, parades, laser light shows at the harbour, new year soccer races, new year horse races, temple visits at Wong Tai Sin on the first day and Che Kung Temple on the third day, and lion and dragon dances performed at various locations. And people in the New Territories used to burn fire crackers, not sure if they still do (this is illegal but nobody seems to care).

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