Posted January 30, 2006on:
According to the Chinese lunar calendar we are starting the Year of the Dog today and we are now in year 4704. Doesn’t it sound great to be alive and well in the Sci-Fi like year of 4704? It sounds like a year where Harrison Ford would be hunting down humanoids, but it’s just the year where they will introduce Smart Cars in America. What a let down.
My work place prides itself on being diversity friendly, meaning respectful of all cultures and backgrounds. So the cafeteria celebrates all kinds of holidays, among them the Chinese New Year (since it’s celebrated by Mongolians, Koreans, the Miao , the Vietnamese, Tibetans, the Nepalese and the Bhutanese, shouldn’t it be called something else? The ever diversity respectful company has thought so too and rebaptized it Lunar New Year).
Today there was red and gold decoration on the walls and on the tables: firecrackers, cute little lanterns and umbrellas, “Lai-See” or red and gold envelopes. The menu too was “Chinese”. There was a gigantic line in front of the “entrees” area. By entrees Americans mean pieces de resistance. One of those faux amis, you know. By contrasts, they call the entrees appetizers. On the Food Network channel, they call the appetizers hors d’oeuvres when they want to be a little bit fancy. It is hilarious when the chefs add herbes de Provence to their dishes and call it French. One day a very well known chef even told his admiring audience that if you added saffron to a fish soup it made it a “bouillabaisse“. His pronounciation of the word made it slightly libidinous and if you speak French you know what I mean.
Anyway to return to our sheep … 🙂
People were lining up for Fried Rice and General Tso’s chicken. There were shumais, potstickers and Korean BBQ-ed chicken wings. Even the sandwich stand had chicken satays with peanut sauce (which are Malays or Thais, but who cares?), along side with your ordinary cheeseburger. The soup of the day was egg drop soup with spinach which I tasted. Very salty and absolutely dreadful.
Oh well… The cafeteria gets points for trying not hard enough.
I got some potstickers ($0.50 each. Highway robbery!) and heard loud noises coming from the lobby. Lots of people had gathered in a circle.
Five guys wearing read t-shirts saying “Chinese Boxing Association” were banging drums. In case you are wondering I believe it is the boxing that was Chinese, not the guys, because they were in all colors : Black, White and Asian. Then a big lion with a bopping head came in and danced around the room, undulating its head and tail. It was quite enjoyable to watch. I’m not sure purists would have found authenticity there though. Then one senior Vice President (an Asian one) came in and started a speech. I have an acute aversion to speeches given anywhere so I did not excuse myself and left to enjoy my potstickers.
And that was how my workplace celebrated the Chinese New Year !
San Francisco which hosts the largest Chinatown outside of Asia has a proper 15-day long celebration of the Lunar New Year, as it should be celebrated. And SF’s public schools are closed on this day. My own city won’t hold its American style Chinese New Year parade until Sunday.
To learn more about Chinese New Year as celebrated in American cities, click here.
I hear Asian communities are pushing to have Chinese New Year marked as a proper American holiday.