Like most cultures, major holidays are about special foods and dishes. So many delicious treats are savored during the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. Here are some of my kids’ favorites:
- Noodles 面条 mìan tíao (‘mian’ is ‘me’ with a long ‘e’ + ‘en’ in a soft ‘e’ sharp decsending tone; ‘tiao’ is ‘tee’ with a long ‘e’+'ow’ in a rising tone) – Noodles represent longevity, therefore noodles are not cut. Instead, one slurps up a noodle for the full length of the noodle. Long life!
- Dumplings 铰子 jìao zi (‘jiao’ is ‘gee’ +’ow’ with a sharp descending tone; ‘zi’ is ‘zuh’ with a neutral tone) – Dumplings stuffed with pork and scallions represent little pockets of yumminess. Dumplings are served steamed, fried, or in a broth. Similar in appearance to the Ming Dynasty gold ingots, dumplings represent prosperity in the year ahead. My local grocery store carries Joyce Chen dumplings which are pretty good for an Americanized take on a Chinese favorite.
- Oranges and tangerines 橘子 jú zi (‘ju’ is ‘j’+'oo’ long ‘o’ with rising tone; ‘zi’ is ‘zuh’ with a neutral tone) – Oranges and tangerines represent luck and wealth.
Click here to hear pronunciations of all these food words.
There are many other foods served during the Chinese New Year (like sticky rice cake, fish, etc.). This is an opportune time to venture to local Chinese restaurants and see what regional specialties may be on the menu. Expand your child’s palate and your own!