Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore


By Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I was just lamenting to my mum about our ridiculous CNY visiting because we go to every relative's place to bai4 nian2 even if we meet them again and again at another person's place. The most ridiculous thing is that everyone would show up at my place for lunch on the second day. To me, it's simply a waste of time and effort- visiting can be so tiring and all that eating really sucks. Ang bao collection would be so much more efficient if we all just stop at 1 person's place. So why do we do this year in year out? Well, according to my mum, it's TRADITION. 

So what is tradition? Typically, it's a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices, a handing down of customs/actions from generation to generation. It's funny how Mummy calls it tradition because it's kinda something that she and my uncles and aunties came up with and obviously my sis and i are not gonna continue it. So she said, "Wait till you guys grow older, you can make your own traditions." 

I must say i'm not really a tradition kinda person (not in the traditional cultural sense) though i do have some running thing going on with S and with my friends. S and i have been celebrating our Christmases abroad for the past 5 years (this year was an exception because of national duty). The brothers (and 2 sisters) have been meeting up for silly CNY eve activities for quite a number of years as well. The squeezing with a million others at chinatown and buying cheap cny goods (on a rainy day) checked. Prata supper checked. KTV checked. Drinking ourselves silly checked. Poker checked. This year it was a night out at a thai disco club. It just gets more and more interesting each year. Stupidgirl and i have our birthday celebrations. L and i have our quite defunct monthly indulgences (we are going to start it again with the inclusion of A & D). But yeah.. we make our own 'traditions' i guess. And to me it's a way of maintaining relationships and bonding with loved ones. 

I suppose it's the same thing for my mum and her siblings. Amidst our hectic lives and crazy schedules and countless commitments, it's hard to make time for family and CNY is practically the only time in the year where everyone gets together. I'm not saying that that should change, i just feel we should not just stick to what's done in the past but make improvements to it. I believe that applies to many situations in different fields e.g. politics (i shall not go there since this post is meant to be more social). 

That said, i do enjoy these yearly gatherings. I used to hate it as a kid because there isn't much to talk to the elders about but that has changed as we grow older. The best part about tradition is the food (of course!). Homemade popiah is undoubtedly one of our favorites. Simple heartwarming dish that is prepared with lotsa love and sweat. All that grating of the radish and carrots, the sautéing of sliced chinese mushrooms, stir fried chopped up pieces of bean curd and broiled prawns and not to forget the home made chili paste. All these were prepared by my wonderful mama who is turning 70 this year. What do we do without her. This wasn't the only thing she prepared for lunch this year. She's really a superwoman. I love her to bits!

Showcasing my awesome popiah wrapping skills. This is not my usual popiah- mine wouldn't have any of that bean sprouts (URGH!). 

Another one of the CNY must haves- Cheng Teng! The pot is always full of longan and gingko nuts. We sometimes add in white fungus as well. I believe i can easily cook this. How hard is it right? My uncle was just teasing me today about my cooking prowess because none of them has tried my cooking before. Stupid S actually sniggered at me when he can't even cook maggie mee properly. Hur.

Seriously what is gonna happen to all these food when our parents' generation pass on? What traditions will we pass on to our kids? What traditional foods will we be able to cook? That thought alone is scary enough to send me straight into the kitchen to take up an apprenticeship with my mama. I need to learn how to make ngoh hiang (minced pork rolls), curry chicken, otah, steamed yam cake, tang yuan, rice dumplings... Too many things, too little time. I don't want to miss out on these in the future. 

What traditions would you carry on? What would you change? What would you MAKE? 

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