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Reunion of the departed

Much has been said about the importance of family reunion dinner during Chinese New Year. However, within certain ancestor-worship practicing family, the reunion of the departed is equally important. We were taught to remember our ancestors, to invite them home on special occasions, and to share festivals with their spirits.

CNY preparation

CNY preparation

This Chinese New Year also noticeably marks my first ancestor prayer session where my grandfather now sat among the departed, while everyone else had had time to get used to it in the past couple of years. In the past, he would be the one cooking up a storm in the kitchen and prepared the reunion meal. I kept expecting to see him by the large wok, tipping in all kind of ingredients and served up dish after dish in quick succession.

When we thought we couldn’t face another morsel of food a couple of days later (there was always too much to eat), he would take all that remained and transformed them in a single pot to make the “leftover soup”. Everyone would be back at the table, pronto. Nobody wanted to miss out on this sweet, sour, spicy, succulent and flavoursome bowl. He would also never fail to serve me copious amount of my favourite dish – longevity noodle in Chinese red rice wine.

I miss him very much.

CNY preparation

CNY preparation

CNY preparation

CNY preparation

CNY preparation

Since his passing, my eldest aunt handles the main meal each year, with the help of one of my grandaunts, while my youngest grandaunt whips up the leftover soup to everyone’s delight. Everyone moves one, but we keep up with the tradition. So much memory attached to these family favourites…

I had initially intended to document each and every one of these recipes, but I realised no matter how I try to recreate any of them, it’s the people that makes these meals special, although the yumminess certainly helps in keeping us attached to the table all the time :) Besides, if you know anything about cooking in most typical Chinese families, you know that they often cook by feel and by taste, and mine is no exception. Trying to quantify the amount of ingredients add to each dish without getting in their way is a bigger task than you could imagine.

Category: Culture

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Nice entry lil…i miss the good old cny family get together…good that u can still relive it yah ;)
    Yes…’the leftover soup’ is one of my fave too especially when u have some duck meat in it and that particular vege!!!

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