The dumplings were wrapped by three ladies from two generations, my sister-in-law Shirley, my niece Anna and myself, then being boiled and pan-fried by my husband John in our house in Sutton Coldfield. It was Chinese New Year’s Eve and a welcome meal was to be served to some very special guests from afar.
For the first time in my 28 years living in the UK, my brother Brad and his family of four (minus his eldest daughter Xiao Ke who is studying in Canada, hence her absence), including his son Ding-Dang came to visit us, on an auspicious and special occasion.
Ask any Chinese person, she or he will tell you just how important Chinese New Year is for families. Every year at this time, in order to spend time with their families and loved ones, millions of Chinese people are on the move, by air, road, train or water.
So here they were in Birmingham, a family reunion which I never even dreamt of happening, actually took place. The timing could not have been better.
2016 has been a trying year, on both macro and micro levels, and one day I will share just how trying it is in my work in progress, a book of fiction which I am working on. So my brother’s family visit provided a welcome distraction for all the other BS which we can do without.
Food will always feature prominently in any Chinese celebrations, and especially so during CNY. We had a few meals out in Birmingham’s fabulous China Town, as well as in an English pub when we visited two of Brad’s old friends in Solihull. You can’t possibly have a celebration without eating and cooking a lot of food, both in terms of variety and quantity.
The weather had not been great, and Brad’s family had been travelling for two weeks in Continental Europe when they arrived. So we did not do much sightseeing. Anna and Ding-Dang loved feeding our animal neighbours, swans, ducks, pigeons and seagulls.
We also did what the Chinese people love to do the most: eating great food.
So I cooked and cooked during the last few days, from Chinese style roast beef, steamed sea bass to home-made dumplings. For the special CNY Eve, we did something fun. Instead of coins (not safe for small children, as is the case with Ding-Dang), we hid almonds in two lucky dumplings.
Guess who were the two people who had the chance to consume the lucky dumplings?
John was one of them, and rightly so. We are hoping that the year of Rooster will indeed bring us a little more luck than the year before, and hopefully by the time I write a New Year blog next year at this time, I will be able to confirm that lucky dumplings actually work! 😉
As this post is going live, Brad and his family are flying to Frankfurt via London Heathrow. I wish them a pleasant flight and a safe passage home to China in the next couple of days, rejoining the millions of fellow Chinese people on the move across borders and oceans.