It certainly feels like yesterday, when OCT and I flew home to celebrate Chinese New Year with our families! And in the blink of an eye, another new year arrives without us realizing.
Most of my friends flew back to Malaysia/Singapore to be with their loved ones during this time of the year and I am a bit sad that I couldn't join in the festivity. I miss the reunion dinner on new year eve, when everyone comes home no matter in which part of the world they are working; The firecrackers, which children and kids-at-heart let off once the clock strikes 12 in the midnight. The festive but cheesy chinese songs that flood every shopping malls; and the pineapple tarts, bak gua, love letters, prawn-crackers, nian gao and other new year goodies we serve our visiting guests. Most often than not, the goodies are consumed by ourselves way before the festival begins.
I went to the Chinatown in Chicago this past weekend in search of traces of Lunar New Year festive ambience which my friends back home told me is ubiquitous in every corner of Asia. I came back to my little studio after an hour of strolling, with disappointment and a pair of numbed toes and none of the described atmosphere.
Having said that, I got myself a tray of nian gao, a kind of traditional chinese glutinous rice cake, which is sweet and has a chewy texture made with brown sugar and glutinuos rice flour among other ingredients. Dipped in beaten eggs and lightly pan-fried, it's one of my favorite treat on Lunar New Year.
If I were home, I would also make a few trays of crispy golden daikon/radish cake, my beloved pineapple tarts and horlicks animal cookies. But I am contented with the store-bought turnip cake for now. And tomorrow, on the actual day of Lunar New Year, I am bringing some to school for my classmates. I can't wait to see their responses. Especially my Mexican classmate- Fernanda, who winced slightly when I described nian gao to her last Friday.
For those who are celebrating the festival, here's wishing you a healthy, prosperous and wonderful Lunar New Year! Gong Xi Gong Xi!