the lions dance on CNY

We spent Chinese New Year in Las Vegas & enjoyed a ‘taste of home’ at the local CNY Festival where we saw the traditional Lion Dance as the central part of the celebration. The Lion Dance has been part of Chinese culture for the longest time. It’s history goes all the way back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).  The belief is that the Lion will drive away evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year; therefore bringing along a good harvest and prosperity for the whole year. It is common that an honored guest will paint on the Lion’s eyes in a ceremonial way, before the dance, signifying the giving of life to the Lion. – The Lion Dance mostly happens during Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival” in China.  But today, you can also see these dances at an opening of new business because it signifies “good fortune” for the owner.

This first video is the start of the Spring Festival Opening Ceremony in Las Vegas, NV – Feb 2015

This second video is the kids that are training to become excellent Lion Dancers one day.

This third video is the finale of the Spring Festival Opening Ceremony in Las Vegas, NV – Feb 2015

Culture Lessons: Family is viewed as a closely united group of living and dead relatives. Ancestor worship is the belief that deceased family members’ spirits will look after the family, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. “Spring Festival” (Chinese New Year) is a 2 week period, after the Lunar New Year, when millions of people in all of China travel home to their relatives, it truly seems as if all of China is traveling at the same time! They will all gather as a group to offer incense, food & prayers to ancestors and various gods or deities. This is a way of ‘taking care’ of the ancestors who have brought them into the world & provided for the lifestyle they enjoy. The ancestors will in turn, “take care” of the living in the same manner & to the same degree. Only after respect has been paid can one continue with the New Year’s festivities. What will follow, in Chinese tradition, will be the biggest feast of the year, with new activities for each day of the festival.

-JK

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feeding five on $10

So I’m working on our latest newsletter – don’t forget to use the link in the sidebar to put your name on the list… While taking a break to have dinner with the family, I was given yet another chance to “JUST TRYYYYY” some new foods. Tonight’s choices were Rock Sea Bass in soy sauce with chives & maybe the 100th possible form of Bean Curd (Tofu, which is pronounced “DOfoo” here).

I will admit that I’m getting braver in these private taste sessions. I much prefer the snickers of my own 4 guys to the hot glare of a table full of 10 locals/strangers who think it sooo very odd that the foods I won’t eat are the ‘normal ones’. To be fair, I suppose it IS rather quirky, considering how I have no issue with gulping down a nice hot bowl of Red Bean Soup (a local dessert actually made with big red beans boiled in a sort of sugar water), traditional Shark Fin Soup made with real Shark, or even gobbling up a serving of ice cold Jelly Fish tentacles… I don’t even have a problem with an occasional bite of intestines & I certainly won’t turn down a Bubble Milk Tea! So ok, this ‘eating ministry’ thing works on the weird foods, I guess it IS the rather ‘normal’ foods that I never liked as a kid that still give me grief (& Mark because he has to order other stuff for me). But I’m working on it!

Which brings us back to tonight’s dinner! Verdict is………. I actually LIKED the fish & was fighting off the kids so I could get more. Not exactly because I loved it, but more out of hunger. You see, I found the fish was actually ‘not terrible’ & in fact, it was better than the chicken we got – so sad when a restaurant actually manages to ruin a chicken of all things?! Anyway, the Bean Curd did not make my list, but since there are still 100 more forms to try, I won’t give up on it altogether just yet.

The best part of dinner turned out to be the price – The beautiful Bass was actually LESS than $10 US! Amazing!! Here’s a picture of the YUMMY fishy… the boys had fun peaking at his brains & finding every last bit of meat on him. – Now I’m off to get one last cup of tea & then get this Newsletter finished. 🙂

bass

 

-JK

dinner Conversations at home

Mom: “Ewwwww, he dropped it!!”

Dad: “Nobody Move!!! — I dropped me brain!”

Joseph: “Quit messing around & just eat it bro!”

:::chomp chomp chomp:::

Tryston: “Oh no, he needs a napkin – he’s gonna spit it out!”

Wesley: “Ugh… It had a SKULL!”squid plate

Mom: “Hmmm, look – it’s crunchy…”

Dad: “That’s not a skull, it’s a BEAK!”

Mom: “Cool, let’s dissect it.”

Joseph: “Yeah, take it apart & THEN eat it.”

Tryston: “Here, give me the chopsticks & a knife.”

Joseph: “There, NOW eat it… & the eyeballs too.”

:::chomp chomp chomp – GULP:::

Mom: “Wow. Your son just ate his first BRAIN!”

Tryston: “Well, he already wolfed down the tentacles…”

Dad: “Yup, that’s my boy!”

Joseph: “What did the eyeballs taste like??!!”

Wesley: “Pretty good for a SQUID BRAIN!”

This is the conversation that was had while we tested out the ‘Pun Choy’ meal that will be served at our January event where we invite poor & elderly neighbors to a big banquet in the city. Such is the ‘normal’ discussion among this family of TCKs! We have many more fun & strange food related moments living here in Hong Kong, we call it “Eating Ministry”. — As it turns out, it was NOT brain, this time, but the tissue surrounding the squid’s beak. Today I found a little interesting info about this piece of the animal that I never thought of before…

squid beakCulture Tips:

What to do with Squid-scraps after cleaning & cutting them up? – Fried Squid Beaks of course! – In Japan, the squid’s mouth parts – which are most definitely thrown away in Western cooking – are salted and fried up into an interesting little appetizer. The beak itself is inedible, but the surrounding flesh is firm and crunchy and actually quite tasty.

So, now we know. 🙂

-JK