Happy Chinese New Year
Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 2/21/2013, 3:45 p.m.
OMG. Gong Xi Fa Cai. Did I forget to say happy Chinese New Year? Quel dommage (French for "oh my goodness"). The first new moon in February always ushers in the beginning of the Chinese New Year, celebrated with Peking duck and a gong that is rung every time it is served, all in the name of good luck. The new moon also ushers in the season of Lent, where you might want to give up the Peking duck along with some other delicacy as a symbol of reflection. With Lent comes Mardi Gras--or is it the other way around, with Mardi Gras first, then Lent? Get it right.
Remember the time when a good Chinese restaurant could be found on practically every corner? In a puff, they all seemed to disappear, replaced by Chinese takeout and delivery-only. A few still do remain. One of our favorites is the Chinese restaurant located on 97th Street and Broadway. The restaurant itself is roomy, comfortable, has good service, good food, good prices--and, best of all, they deliver uptown, although the delivery man will stand at your door and look at you if you don't give him a good tip, at least what he thinks is good.
Of course, if you really want to go authentic, there's the Peking Duck House, located at 28 Mott St., right in the middle of Chinatown. Peking Duck House serves in the traditional Beijing style, believing that duck brings happiness and luck.
What in the world is Peking duck, you may ask? Well, it's all in the preparation, my dear. Cooked until the duck's skin is crisp with the meat inside still moist, it is then thinly carved and placed into pancakes with scallions and then drizzled with a rich hoisin sauce. Yum. The Mitchells, though, are a little partial to cold sesame noodles with peanut sauce. Throw in an egg roll and hot mustard with a Coca-Cola on the side and I'm good.
The General is a newly opened Chinese restaurant located at 199 Bowery. Featured is a shrimp dish with snow peas in garlic sauce that's pretty much to die for.
Each Chinese New Year recognizes one of 12 different animals. You will have to Google the exact origin of the tradition. All I can tell you is, this is the Year of the Snake. Those born in the Year of the Snake, which include 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013, are said to be charming, elegant in dress, something of a skeptic and a deep thinker who likes to judge by intuition. And, lest we forget, also one who is fortunate in wealth throughout life!
Falling on the night of the first full moon, which this year will be Feb. 24, is the lunisolar new year. This is celebrated with the Lantern Festival, which brings an end to the Chinese New Year season. There are several traditions associated with this festival and many cities have spectacular lantern displays, where children make their own paper lanterns. The traditional food associated with the Lantern Festival are Yuanxiao dumplings--sticky rice dumplings with sweet or savory fillings. Along with Black History Month, there is something to look forward to all month long.