The eve of Chinese New Year is fast approaching. As is with tradition, it’s an evening where family members gather around the dinner table to feast (seriously do you expect any less from us Chinese?) on their last meal before the New Year under the lunar calendar rolls in.
In the movies, it’s often portrayed as a time of good laughter, good food, good company and everything one would come to expect from an ideal family time. In reality however, it seldom translate that way, for the simple fact that it provides an even more convenient forum to unearth one too many skeletons out from everyone’s closet – rainbow colored or otherwise.
This, as you can imagine, was an entirely predictable affair, though not necessarily in a particularly pleasant manner. Small talk has never been more forced. And don’t even ask me how many times I had to entertain THE question. You know, the one where they ask about your long overdued nuptial plans in a semi-hopeful-yet-judgmental-don’t-hold-your-breath sort of tone. For the record, my parents aren’t the ones asking. Lord knows they’ve probably given up on that thought a long time ago.
Well aunties and uncles as always, I’m just too busy with my career right now. The official reply plays on an on like a broken record every year in tune to the blaring toong-toong-chiang music in the background. And no, I don’t need your Ang Pau packets as compensation for your interrogations. It’s simply just not worth it.
So you can see why reunions of such send shivers down my spine without fail every time it swings by.
When my maternal grandmother was around, the family used to religiously return to her home for this gala event. By default, my mother and her elder siblings would work together in the kitchen churning out plates upon plates of family recipes, which have been handed down to them individually by my late-grandfather. You see, my grandfather had this all planned out. He specifically taught each of his five children a specific signature dish. The secret of drunken chicken was revealed to only my first uncle, second aunt had dips on abalone, and so fourth. The old man was brilliant because in order to cook grandmother a banquet with all her favourite dishes, my nosy aunts and uncles have to work together. It was quite a sight to behold. Food was abundant and so was my waistline back then.
This has of course, faded away after grandmother’s passing. Nowadays, our dinners are usually in one of their homes or we just decide – like every other modern household – to have it in a restaurant (HOORAY! No messy after dinner clean up).
We can only hope that this year’s affair will be hosted in a place where waitresses in blindingly in God-forbiding shades of red uniforms accessorised with every fashion faux pas bits and bobs in the bible, and that awful super piercing auspicious music is the farthest thing from sight. I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed and rooting for yet another simple meal (that glorious Claypot Waxed Meat Rice is making my mouth water just thinking about it) at Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine.
***ELEGANT INN HONG KONG CUISINE
2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block,
Menara Hap Seng,
50250 Kuala Lumpur