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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! (Happy New Year!)

the Vietnamese eat kumquats on Tết for financial luck

Late, Sunday night (after my dinner at Zé Café), David prepared a light meal to celebrate Tết with. (I, of course, could only "nibble" on the festive treats)

"rouged" cavas for good luck!

David and I began with "rouged" cava cocktails and kumquats. The shape and color of kumquats are similar to that of golden currency coins; therefore, the Vietnamese traditionally eat them during Tết in hopes of financial luck. And red, in Asian culture, symbolizes happiness, luck and advantage!

bánh chưng

Also for good luck on Tết, David and I shared bánh chưng (glutinous rice cake). Growing up, my mother would buy these cakes every year for Vietnamese New Year. Traditionally filled with fatty pork, bean and peppercorns, these tasty treats are generally eaten only once a year (although smaller ones--typically triangular and of the sweet variety--can be found year round).

long noodles for longevity

Representing longevity, David whipped up a quick dish of long rice noodles and a quick nước mắm sauce. 

bánh bao

Last (of our savory dishes), but not least, was a duo of bánh bao. These bánh bao, which were filled with chicken weren't like the ones I preferred growing up, filled with sweet, roast pork and hard boiled egg. But nonetheless, they sufficed. For our three-dish dessert course, we enjoyed a mix of American and Asian treats: sugar donuts, fresh coconut candy and daifuku. (more accurately: Dominican and Japanese)

good luck donut!

The sugar donuts and fresh coconut candy came from Kenny Bakery, a Dominican bakery in our neighborhood with some exceptionally good treats!

Japanese daifuku

And the Japanese daifuku (also made with glutinous rice)--while not a Vietnamese confection--is commonly enjoyed throughout most of Asia and is also associated with good luck because of its red bean filling.

2012--in Asian culture--is the year of the dragon. According to culture, dragon and tiger years are the most desirable years since the two creatures are believed to bring luck, strength, nobility, royalty, wisdom and promising futures. Moreover, the dragon has been the symbol of royalty for thousands of years because its emperors believed that dragons could protect their thrones with their fearsome strengths and abilities. Thus, 2012 is hoped to bring good fortune for people: promotion, wealth, health, properties, good marriages and new children. There won't be another year this lucky until 2022--year of the tiger!  --Vietnam Online
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