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Posts Tagged ‘chinese new year recipes’

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I have a soft spot in my heart for old school American Chinese restaurants. They are the food of my childhood, serving up comforting favorites like crispy egg rolls, chop suey and day-glo orange sweet and sour pork. Theses restaurants may not have been authentically Chinese but they served up some delicious food and the Ho-Wah in Phoenix Arizona was no exception. It is long gone but is, to this day, the standard by which I judge all American Cantonese restaurants. A storefront with an old neon sign and a very particular typeface will stop me in my tracks every time. The food may be hit or miss but when I’m lucky enough to find a good one, it brings me right back to those childhood meals at Ho-Wah and I’m happy.

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When I was a kid, in the pre-little-sister days, celebration dinners were a big deal and sometimes took place at our favorite Chinese restaurant, China Doll.  There was one big deal dinner, in particular, that was to celebrate some work success of my father’s.  I think my Dad got a bonus check and we blew the whole thing on a big, ridiculous Chinese dinner.  This is the kind of thing we did and I loved it.  I remember this one especially because although our meals came with the standard appetizers – egg rolls and soup – my Dad ordered the one thing we were never allowed to get but always wanted.  The PuPu Platter, that classic over-the-top appetizer of 1970’s Chinese-American restaurants.  I often looked longingly at neighboring tables when the waitress brought the small flaming hibachi grill, as I sipped my egg drop soup with big sad eyes.  I so wanted to cook things on that tiny grill.  But that night, hallelujah, it was all ours! I was beyond ecstatic as the waitress moved a mound of plates to make room for the big platter, flaming grill and numerous bowls of sauces.  I nearly jumped out of my seat to put a sticky, sweet and oddly red colored sparerib onto the hot grill to “cook”.  I don’t know if it really did all that much but it was a helluva lot of fun. There were other things on that platter but the grill and the ribs is what you remembered.

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Happy Chinese New Year!  Gong Xi Fa Cai!  It’s The Year of the Dragon which just sounds cool, doesn’t it?  Powerful and strong, conjuring up images of Bruce Lee and fire breathing stuff.  Last year?  The Rabbit.  Doesn’t have quite the same fierce ring, does it?  I don’t know much about the Chinese Lunar Cycle or the historic meaning and symbolism of these things but I always like the idea of a celebration.  Any opportunity to cook and eat delicious things with friends, I’ll take.

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Chinese New Year is tomorrow (2/3) and It’s the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar. I did a little research (i.e. one google search) and discovered that people born in this year (‘15, ‘27, ‘39, ‘51, ‘63, ‘75, ‘87, ‘99) are said to be articulate, talented and ambitious as well as virtuous, reserved and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind and seldom lose their temper. Hmmmm. Good to know. I think I read this on a Chinese placemat once. This year I’m going to celebrate by indulging in one of my all-time favorite things: dim sum.

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