Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tet and Chinese New Year 2015

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 13

Last night we celebrated Tet and Chinese New Year, though we were a day late. We spent the evening with the H-S family and ordered in Chinese food, which thrilled H. TM has stated for future reference that Vietnamese food is better and we should have ordered that. The objection was noted and will be kept in mind for next year.

I will pause here for a brief digression. In our defense, it is far, far easier to order Chinese take-out than Vietnamese as the only very close VN restaurant closed several years ago. You would think in a city of 75,500 people that has over 90 restaurants in its downtown alone, that there could be one Vietnamese restaurant. Is there Ethiopian? Yes. Thai? Yes, many. Mexican? Yes. Chinese... French... Spanish... Italian... Japanese? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Vietnamese? No. Now, back to the topic.

The evening was pretty low key. We ate and there might have been some fireworks, but you didn't hear that from me. TM and I had picked up some sweets at the Vietnamese market for our party. Dried fruit is part of the Tet celebrations and I found some bags marked "sweets for the New Year". We had candied ginger, winter melon, and lotus seed.

The ginger was very spicy, which some people liked. The winter melon (white stuff) was incredibly sweet and like eating straight sugar, and the lotus seeds (round), were just a little bland (I thought.)

The hit of the evening was this bag of Chinese New Year's candy which I had bought. 


Now I will admit to buying it with a little trepidation. The packaging was all in Chinese and I've had some really, um, interesting (that would be the polite form of gross) Chinese candy. Despite my warnings to the children that I couldn't guarantee the tastiness of the product, the bag was opened and swarmed upon. It turns out that it was pretty darn good. It was a sort of crispy wafer cookie texture with different flavors... coconut, coffee, chocolate, peanut butter. This is what was left.


AL H-S arrived home later that evening and was able to translate some of the package. The three characters on the front name the candy as "crisp heart sweets". Now you know.

So, happy year of the goat, everyone. 

And I'll end with one more little digression. In China, it is the year of the goat/sheep/ram. You'll see it different ways. This is because Mandarin uses the same word for both sheep and goat. (Some day I'll have to ask one of my Mandarin speaking friends how the Bible passage about the sheep and goats is translated into Mandarin.) Vietnamese uses one word for sheep and a different word for goat and the year is consistently called the year of the goat. So there is your cultural linguistics lesson for the day. 

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