WITH CLARICE CHIAN
Even though I am of Chinese heritage I have yet to set foot in China, and am afraid I cannot speak or understand the Chinese language. I was born in London and moved to Brazil before I was one year of age, where I grew up. I then moved moving to the UK where I studied my A-levels, and then moved again to Australia, where I have lived ever since. It is here that I met my husband, who moved to Australia from Malaysia when he was 12 years old (Chinese-Malaysian), so he has lived in Australia for longer than I have. We share a passion for family, food and travel…
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! HOW WILL YOU BE CELEBRATING THIS YEAR?
Happy Chinese New Year to you too! My mother is one of 9 brothers and sisters, all of whom live in Australia (7 out of 9 live in the same city), and on Chinese New Year we usually gather together for a huge family feast where everyone brings a dish to share. In addition to all the aunts and uncles there are many cousins, and my mother’s cousins and their children (and grandchildren) too, so it can be a very big (yet informal) affair, that revolves around delicious food and family.
IT’S THE YEAR OF THE DOG, DOES THAT HAVE SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
It will, especially from this year on! I am due to give birth within the two weeks during which Chinese New Year is celebrated this year, so it will be an extra special year for us, with a little ‘puppy dog’ (spoiler alert: a little girl) joining our family very soon!
CHINESE HOROSCOPES: READ OR DISMISS?
According to Chinese Astrology, the year of one’s birth, and the animal it represents, determines a lot about one’s personality traits. Even though I am not superstitious or usually one to read horoscopes, I must admit I like reading about the ‘personality traits’ certain ‘animals’ have. According to the Chinese Horoscope, anyone born in 2018 (earth dog year) will be broad-minded, faithful, considerate, well-disciplined and stick to principles.
Chinese New Year for me is a time of gathering with my extended family and friends, catching up, feasting and celebrating.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT THE CHINESE NEW YEAR?
I love the fact that it is the one time of the year I get to celebrate my Chinese culture and enjoy the sense of family, and the delicious food I get to eat.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR LITTLE ONES?
I think this is the first year my eldest (daughter) has been really interested and excited about the upcoming Chinese New Year, having finally cottoned on to the fact that she will be receiving red packets (little red envelopes containing money, called Ang Pow)! She’s really looking forward to it, and ever since Christmas has been asking me when Chinese New Year is!
DOLCE & GABBANA
WHITE D&G DOGS BRANDED TEE
WHAT’S YOUR FONDEST CHINESE NEW YEAR MEMORY?
I must admit I don’t recall celebrating Chinese New Year that much until I moved to Australia. The Chinese community in Brazil (at least in the city I lived in, and at the time) was quite small, nothing like what it is like here. One year, when I was still living in Brazil as a teenager, I travelled to Australia to visit my cousins for Christmas and celebrated Chinese New Year here as well. I thought receiving ‘Ang Pow’ (red packets) from adults was the coolest thing ever. There was one year I recall celebrating Chinese New Year in Brazil, and it was towards the end of my time there, when I had Chinese lessons for a year or so on Saturdays. On Chinese New Year we had a big celebration and poetry recital competition. I practised my poem so hard with my dad, and won! Please don’t ask me to recite it, as it’s all forgotten now, haha!
DO YOU HAVE A CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITION?
Pretty much the big family gathering is the main Chinese New Year tradition I have. Once upon a time, I used to receive Ang Pow’s, but now that I am married (only single people receive these red packets), I now hand them out to my nieces and nephews instead.
IS THERE A QUINTESSENTIAL CHINESE NEW YEAR DISH YOU LIKE TO HAVE TO CELEBRATE THIS JOYOUS OCCASION?
There is one dish that is the equivalent of the Christmas ‘turkey’ for Chinese New Year, which has increased in popularity in the last few years. It is called Yee Sang (or Lo Hei in Cantonese), and is a raw fish salad containing raw fish, shredded daikon, jicama, carrots, pickled ginger, and is popular in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia (and therefore here in Australia). It is a symbol of prosperity and abundance, and is normally served as an appetizer during a Chinese New Year Feast. All the ingredients are piled up on a large platter, and everyone picks up a pair of chopsticks to mix the ingredients up by the lifting them high, the higher you lift the ingredients, the more ‘abundance’ you receive during the year. Yee Sang literally means “raw fish” but since the word for fish is a homophone for the word ‘abundance’ in Chinese, Yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.
One thing I do recall my mother making almost every year at Chinese New Year, even in Brazil (although I didn’t quite realise it then, growing up), is Nian Gao, or Chinese New Year’s cake. It is a food prepared from glutinous rice and while it can be eaten all year round, traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year. My mom would either batter it and fry it (the glutinous rice inside becomes soft and chewy) or steam it and roll it in coconut (which was my favourite way of eating it).