Our Mom Makes Good Food: Chinese New Year's Eve

When I was younger, I associated being Chinese with never eating McDonald's, never buying things full price, and never getting to eat with other kids during lunch because my dumplings smelled like a fart. But after eating a feast consisting of lobster, pork belly, chicken, asparagus, noodles, salmon (and spending years trying to get over my internalized racism), I can say that it is pretty awesome.

This is the first time since 2012 I've had a Chinese New Years Eve meal with my family, and I don't think I have ever appreciated it this much. One of the things I love most about food is that it is completely tied to family and culture. What you eat tells a lot about where you've been, where you are, and where you come from. The chicken and the pork belly could have been found on my mom's kitchen table forty years ago. But the maple glazed salmon? That's all Canada, and now that's part of our family history too.

Where words fail, food can fill in the blanks. There aren't a lot of sentimental conversations shared between myself and my parents. Yet nothing says "I care about you" more than my mom making scrambled eggs before an exam, a bowl of porridge when I'm sick, or a seven course meal for good luck in the new year. Maybe that's why I eat so much (it's not, I'm a glutton).

 Maple glazed salmon and asparagus. Fish in Chinese is "yu", which is also the word for surplus (with a different accent) and is eaten so you have plenty of food and money leftover for the new year.

Maple glazed salmon and asparagus. Fish in Chinese is "yu", which is also the word for surplus (with a different accent) and is eaten so you have plenty of food and money leftover for the new year.

 Lobster in cream sauce and steamed chicken with green onion dip (not pictured). "Long ha" (lobster) in Chinese represents being strong and healthy. Chicken is eaten for prosperity ("ho sai gai").

Lobster in cream sauce and steamed chicken with green onion dip (not pictured). "Long ha" (lobster) in Chinese represents being strong and healthy. Chicken is eaten for prosperity ("ho sai gai").

 Yam noodles for long life. See you in 3015.

Yam noodles for long life. See you in 3015.

 Roasted pork belly is eaten as a sign of wealth, since in the olden days meat was hard to come by.

Roasted pork belly is eaten as a sign of wealth, since in the olden days meat was hard to come by.

 Not pictured: hair soup -- seriously, it looks like someone took my hair and put it in a soup. It's supposed to make you rich. I'll eat a whole head if it's true

Not pictured: hair soup -- seriously, it looks like someone took my hair and put it in a soup. It's supposed to make you rich. I'll eat a whole head if it's true