Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where and What to Eat for Chinese New Year

Today is the lunar New Year's Eve and tomorrow starts the year of the Tiger. It is the Chinese tradition to have a great feast today (and for three contiguous days) to celebrate. If you are in the great Boston area, I recommend two restaurants that are the best for Sichuan cuisine:

  • Red Pepper (重庆食府), (508) 620-9998, 17 Edgell Road, Framingham, MA (off Rt. 9)
  • Chili Garden (川王府), (781) 396-8488, 41 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA
We are going with a bunch of friends to one of them. Can't wait!

One of the must-have traditional New Year dishes is smoked pork (腊肉). The restaurants above smoke the pork themselves to make this wonderful dish and it tastes great. Also, when you go to any Chinese restaurant, don't forget to ask if they have sweet-rice balls (汤圆), a must-have dessert to celebrate the New Year. Not every Chinese restaurant offers it, but good ones should.

smoked pork 

sweet-rice balls in rice-wine

四川凉粉 (Sichuan's cold rice noodles)

By the way, my old townsfolk in Chongqing believe a Tiger Year will be severe. I don't think the young generation would buy that. Apparently the older generations have a more pessimistic world view.

Among all the Tiger Years I have lived through, the one that stands out is 1974.  In January that year I finished high school, without any graduation ceremony. In May I was sent down to the countryside as an "insert," and labored in the fields with peasants for nearly four years, until universities re-started in spring 1978.  Life was really harsh in the countryside. But unlike many of my peers, I don't resent that time. I treasure that experience; it opened my eyes to the reality of how people at the bottom of society lived. One of the stories in my book Apologies Forthcoming, "Disciple of the Masses," has parts based on my own experience. Check it out.

Happy New Year everyone!


Matthew said...

春节快乐!We celebrated last night with too much food. And my wife taught me to cook 新疆大盘鸡. We also had a nice New Year lunch at the Sichuan restaurant here.

It feels a little strange celebrating the New Year without tons of fireworks being set off in every corner of the city.

Xujun said...

Yummy! Your wife must be a good cook. We had a great meal with friends in a Sichuan restaurant, and everyone was totally filled. :-)

I missed fireworks too - those are the happiest memories of my childhood.

Anonymous said...

i hate firecrackers, but i wouldn't mind lighting some when ccp is driven out of power

Anonymous said...

We had all the usuals... and then this year went to a nightclub instead of watching the CCTV gala.

Happy Year of the Tiger Xujun!

Xujun said...

Happy together, Michael! Glad to hear from you again. How's life in Guangxi? I didn't watch the CCTV gala either - it seems to be getting worse every year.