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North versus South What to eat on New Year’s Eve ?...

2017-01-29  清风明月t...
Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history. Putting on new clothes, setting off firecrackers, staying up all night and watching the New Year’s gala are popular Spring Festival customs. But perhaps the most important celebration is the reunion dinner on New Year's Eve, when family members gather around for a feast.
While the Western New Year celebration is more about drinking, the Chinese take the New Year as an opportunity to enjoy a gourmet meal. Just like turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, some particular dishes are must-haves on a Chinese New Year's Eve dinner table. 
A stereotype of food served on New Year’s Eve in Northern China 
Wheat is the staple crop of Northern China. Northerners enjoy an abundance of wheat-flour products in the form of noodles, dumplings, steamed buns, stuffed buns, and pancakes. Dumplings served with vinegar and hot chili oil for dipping are the most popular food for many traditional festivals in the north. 
Due to its long history and widespread promotion, people have formed stereotypes about food traditions on important days in Northern China and tend to believe that dumplings are the main dish served there on New Year’s Eve. In some southerners’ minds, the differences between food served at the reunion dinner in Northern China and Southern China are listed below.
North vs South 
[Left:dumplings, right:Sweet rice balls, photo provided to China Daily]
and ...
[Left:dumplings, right:Buddha jump, photo provided to China Daily]
and...
[Left:dumplings, right:Carp in brown sauce, photo provided to China Daily]
and...
[Left:dumplings, right:Roster piglet, photo provided to China Daily]
and... 
[Left:dumplings feast, right:all kinds of meat, photo provided to China Daily]
The truth is …
In fact, except for dumplings, a wide variety of delicious foods are served on New Year’s Eve both in the north and south. From meats to sweets, there are several 'lucky' foods that bode success and good fortune, which vary widely from north to south, according to different regional customs.
In Northern China
Eight-Treasure Rice Pudding 
Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, hence the pudding has eight types of 'treasure', including red jujubes, lotus seeds, dried longans, and other various dried, candied fruits to show a wish for good luck in the coming new year. Steamed pudding is soaked in sugar and butter, and the top is interspersed with the eight treasures.
Longevity Noodles 
Noodles have a long history in Chinese culture: the world’s oldest known noodles were found in China, not Italy, and they date from over 4,000 years ago. But longevity noodles served at the New Year are made as long as possible, either fried and served on a plate, or boiled and served in a bowl with their broth.
Long-length noodles symbolize a long life, and they are thus never cut with a knife. Leafy green vegetables like bok choy and mustard are also served with longevity noodles to wish long lives to parents.
Whole Roast Lamb 
There are many ways to cook lamb, including roasting, frying, deep frying, stir frying, stewing, smoking, boiling, and braising. But the most popular Chinese lamb dish on New Year’s Eve should be the whole roasted lamb. The dish keeps the animal intact, apart from gutting, and is served on a huge plate. The whole lamb symbolizes reunion, so people enjoy sharing the delicious cuisine with family members and waiting for the new year together.
Duck
In China, the duck is always considered to be a sumptuous dish on a dining table at a meal and it symbolizes fertility in the coming year. The nutritional value of duck is similar to that of chicken. It is an excellent tonic food that nourishes the stomach and is also used for toning kidneys, treating edemas, relieving coughs and reducing phlegm. Roasted duck is a famous dish at a reunion dinner and is popular in Northern China.
In Southern China
Spring Rolls 
Spring rolls, also named 'spring pancakes' or 'thin pancakes', are a traditional Chinese New Year food, especially in southern regions of the Yangtze River. Spring rolls are a Cantonese dim sum dish of cylindrical-shaped rolls filled with vegetables, meat, or something sweet. Fillings are wrapped in thin dough wrappers, which are fried until  the spring rolls become golden-yellow in color. The golden cylindrical-shaped rolls represent gold bars, which symbolize wealth.
Rice Cake
The rice cake, which is pronounced ‘nian gao’ in Chinese and has an implied meaning that people get promoted to a higher position year after year, is made of glutinous rice flour. In Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian Provinces, people eat rice cakes in their hotpot with seafood, other meat and vegetables as complementary dishes. It is a banquet with various cooking methods applied, such as frying, simmering, stewing and braising.
Fish
In Chinese, 'fish' (Yu) has the same pronunciation as 'surplus' (Yu). Chinese people believe if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, they can earn more in the next year, so people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year. Fish, in this way, means an increase in prosperity.
In Southern China, fish is a must-have dish in every family on New Year’s Eve, which can be cooked in various ways, such as boiling, steaming and braising. The most famous Chinese fish dishes include steamed weever, West Lake fish with pickled cabbage and chili, steamed fish in vinegar sauce and boiled fish with spicy broth.
Hot Pot
Mouth-numbing and spicy broth is the key to hot pot in southwest China's Sichuan and Chongqing. It is absolutely the best comfort food in cold weather during lunar New Year. Chinese put hot bone soup in a big metal bowel and boil different kinds of sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, meat balls and seafood balls in it. Family members prefer to chat with each other when the foods are being boiled, so the reunion dinner always takes a longer time. 
Chicken
Chicken is a popular dish at the reunion dinner, especially in Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. To local folks, the favorite chicken cuisine is Cantonese white-cut chicken.
As the name suggests, the dish is a poached whole chicken, chopped up and served with minced ginger and scallions. But the secret to making a delicious white-cut chicken is to get a freshly killed chicken instead of a frozen one. And a cold bath for the chicken immediately after poaching makes the flesh firm and the skin crispy.
Grand feast enjoyed nationwide
While in the past dishes served on Chinese New Year’s Eve differed in various parts of China, people now enjoy a wide variety of dishes that originated in the north and the south. No matter where you are, the best thing about Chinese new year is having the whole family together! 
Please accept our wishes for you and yours for a happy Chinese New Year.

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