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01.12.2006

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new year, take two 
how to host a Chinese New Year's feast 

by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 4

In addition to the requisite nian gao for New Year's, Chinese meals almost always end with some fruit. Oranges and tangerines, which symbolize wealth and good luck, are especially popular this time of year; if you can get them, pommelos make a nice exotic touch (they look like grapefruit, but with firmer flesh and a sweeter flavor; peel both the outer skin and the individual sections to get at the fruit). It's also a good idea to have some light nibbles for before and after the meal. While you're shopping for meal ingredients for the party, keep an eye out for Asian snacks that strike your fancy. Buy an assortment of sweet and savory treats to scatter in bowls around the pad.

bottoms up
Chinese food is notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but fortunately beer seems to make the ideal accompaniment. Tsingtao is perfect if you can get it; if not, offer whatever lager-style beer you like, served cold of course. For non-drinkers, tea makes a good choice -- jasmine tea appeals to most tastes, but serve whatever Chinese tea you like. And if you're feeling less traditional? Get schmancy with some ginger martinis -- particularly nice as a before or after-dinner cocktail.

extra extra
In my family at least, an abundance of good food and a cacophony of lively conversation are generally all that's needed to make any gathering feel festive. But if you're looking to get more decorative, go with red and gold galore accessories, as these are the colors traditionally associated with the holiday (or, really, any happy occasion). Fresh flowers, especially orchids and narcissus, add another nice touch; meanwhile, make a trip to your nearest Chinatown (if you have one) and you can find red paper lanterns, calligraphied red paper couplets and more goodies to hang around the pad.

Whether you choose to go all-out with the decorations or keep the focus on the food, remember to relax, have fun, and enjoy the company. And as the Chinese say this time of year: Gong xi fa cai!

o

check out these related articles: 
gong xi fa cai
throw a chinese new year party | huo-guo how-tos chinese hot pot | dumplings for dummies  

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