Wednesday, January 28, 2009

reunion dinner - to usher in the ox

this year's reunion dinner is more complete than last year's and previous years'; this year, after a lapse of five years, ivy is able to stay on for the reunion dinner. except for her first year of studies when she managed to spend the lunar new year with us, all the other years she had either visited in june or, if she visited at the end of the year, she would have to rush back to melbourne because of her studies. now that she has started working, she is able to take leave.

as has been the practice over the years, my brother's family of five and my youngest sister lynn join us at the reunion table with my mother. my 86-year old mother, who stays with one of my sisters, will spend the last day of the old lunar year and the first day of the new year at my place.

we have been having steamboat dinner for a number of years. this year, we cut down on the amount and number of food items because the year before we had quite a lot of leftovers. the stock for the steamboat soup came from pork ribs which was bought from ben's. not all ingredients were raw; some like the quail eggs and the fish balls - bought fresh - were pre-cooked.

these days, you can get thinly sliced meat done the shabu style from the supermarket. this makes preparation much easier. we do not marinate the raw meat at all. other items that ended up in the hot pot included chicken meat, prawns, scallops, fresh squids, prawnballs, shrimp wonton, stuffed tofu balls and cheese sausages.

the vegetables that went into the soup were tung oh, local leaf, long cabbage and inoki mushroom.

another 'tradition' of sort is the cleaning of the gaps between the tiles in my flat. my brother's family members and my sister would get down on their fours, use the wonder sponge to whiten the gaps.


nah said...

The reunion dinner on New Year's Eve is usually a lavish meal, because it is not only a dinner but also a family reunion. For most homemakers, it is a nightmare...the amount of food to cook. Nowadays, reunion dinner has become more liberal with the disappearance of the traditional old customs. The younger members of a family attend the family get-together if they can, but it is also alright if they cannot come. In fact, it’s not uncommon for families to have their reunion dinner in restaurants where special and exotic food can be served.

yg said...

mr nah, i think what is important is the coming together as a family, so whether it is eating at home or in a restaurant, it is still in keeping with the spirit of the occasion. we have to keep what is meaningful and good going.
reunion dinner, visiting relatives, exchanging mandarin oranges and giving ang pows are part of this tradition. once, someone told me: we don't celebrate chinese new year, we celebrate x'mas only. i wonder what has happened to his roots.

Victor said...

We are one family that has our reunion dinner at a restaurant instead of at home. A long time ago, when my parents were still around, we used to eat a sumptuous home-cooked reunion dinner at my parents' home. All my siblings and their families would gather together and it was always a happy and joyous occasion. We would even have two tables and have 2 dishes of everything plus a big pot of delicious chicken-based soup.

A few years ago, my family had simple steamboat reunion dinners at my in-laws' place like the one you had. More recently, we ate out because we thought it was a simpler arrangement and not so taxing on the in-laws'. This year we ate at Soup Restaurant.

Some families even go on overseas holidays during CNY.

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