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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year Shopping

It's Chinese New Year's Eve. I went out to the shops this morning to get 60 oranges, 2 strips of pork loin and some shallots. There were no shallots to be had. The shops were chock a block full of abalone, fresh ocean fish, shrimp, pork and all sorts of expensive food items but the humble shallot was nowhere to be found... Odd huh?

Only one of the 5 pork stalls at the wet market was open. The vegetable stall was shockingly bare. Whatever fruits left on display looked like they had gone through spousal abuse. A swarm of locust people seemed to have descended on the wet market last night and made off with abundant provisions for the Reunion Dinner that all Chinese families eat on Chinese New Year's Eve.

All Chinese families except us... maybe?

We eat our Reunion Dinner on the Sunday or Saturday just before Chinese New Year's Day. It's like celebrating X'mas on the weekend before X'mas. It makes sense to us because restaurants charge so much more for Chinese New Year's eve... and food item prices spike in the days leading up to Chinese New Year's eve, especially for items that everyone eats at Chinese New Year - abalone, rabbit fish with roe, shrimp and all such.

So, it's also the Family's recent tradition to eat anything BUT Chinese food at the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner. I guess there is still a bit of the rule-breaking rebel in ol' Petunia. Our Reunion Dinner is a culinary globe-trotting exercise. This year, we had Swiss cuisine. It was a throw-up between Barracks and Marché.

And Marché won. Here's why.

Marché (French word for "market") is set up like an outdoor fresh food market. You gotta line up, point at what you want and see it cooked right in front of you. Then you grab a tray and bring your loot back to your table. It was far more convivial than Barracks because we had to stand there and decide who was gonna queue where and get how many of what to put in the middle of the table to SHARE. That was fun. Then everybody headed off in different directions to gather food. That was fun too. Then everybody went looking for everybody to ask for more specific details about some orders e.g., drinks... dessert. Fun again. Then a few people went looking for cutlery and plates. Meanwhile an octogenarian member of the Family sat quietly guarding the spoils of our various expeditions. I think he had the fun appropriate for his age and physical condition eh?

Then someone spilled orange juice and there was a big hop around. That was fun.

When it was time to eat, the plates were handed back and forth up and down the table. Paella over here... pass the rosti... why is my piece of sausage so small... if you guys don't start on the veggies I am gonna start distributing... whose root beer is this 'cos I just drank it. And we swept right through the plates and ate till nothing was left.

Fun! Like a big steamboat dinner except that it was self-service that required a complete run-around in the restaurant.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

Sounds fun and different! Reunion dinner to me is always steamboat plus my mum's other specialties. And it is always at my mum's place. My seat is as usual next to the electric steamboat pot since I was always in charge of temperature control!

Blur Ting said...

Interesting reunion dinner!

You know what? I had a shock when I went to the market to get minced pork with the intention to make ngoh hiang for reunion dinner too. The wet market was like a ghost town! Luckily I had the good sense to cook braised duck the day before, or else I wouldn't be able to bring anything to my parent's house for dinner!