For most traditional Chinese families, Chinese New Year is the biggest event in the year. Way way more important than Christmas and obviously, National Day. 😉
There’s the reunion dinner today, followed by the many gatherings among relatives over the next few days. The two-day public holidays are welcomed by both adults and children and it’s a period when family and friends catch up and have fun. And well, the most positive and best representation of CNY for me over the years? Playing blackjack with a bak kwa in my left hand, pineapple tarts in the right with a can of coke sitting by my lap. Hopefully with plenty of notes in front of me too. 😛
But I am resolving to cut down on the feasting during this Chinese New Year. And here’s the reasons why:
1. Increasing Age
Much as I hate to admit it, my metabolism is mellowing with age. Ok, I can still finish a tub of Haagen Dazs while watching a movie just like 5 or 10 years ago. But the difference is that the effects of this kind of wanton behaviour will show over the next couple of weeks in recent years.
I am lucky to have been blessed with a higher than average metabolism and has never been “fat” throughout my life. But it’s starting to take a bit more effort to keep the weight down and those pineapple tarts, almond cookies and bak kwa would have to be taken in moderation. #Firstworldproblems
2. Our Affluence
Once upon a time, Chinese New Year was probably the only occasion when average Chinese Singaporeans could partake in a feast that included a whole fish and maybe some prawns. From stories I have heard from parents, uncles and older colleagues, that was probably 30-40 years ago.
With the ensuing prosperity that accompanied Singapore’s economic progress, we have upgraded to scallops, abalone and lobsters to get some surprises. But even those stuff aren’t that rare anymore as they are often available at wedding dinners too. Seriously, with our affluence, it could be more refreshing to have simpler meals during this festive period.
3. Higher Prices
I went to the wet market last week to get some ingredients for today’s steamboat dinner. The prices were nothing short of astronomical. A dou cang (type of fish)’s price had increased to >$50/kg and the prices of prawns had also more than doubled compared to a month ago.
This is not surprising considering that the worldwide supply of seafood is unlikely to have increased over the years. In fact, the supply of wild seafood is likely to have shrunk considerably due to overfishing. Furthermore, with increased demand from populous China during the lunar new year period, prices are bound to rise significantly.
Many of these mainland Chinese are just like our parents years ago, only able to afford a drumstick or fish once or twice a year. With higher disposable incomes, higher prices will definitely not hurt us as much as them. If enough of us think this way and reduce our consumption of these stuff during this period, the “less fortunate” might be able to have a happier lunar new year too
4. Poorer Quality
Sometimes, it’s not just higher prices but the poorer quality or service that sours purchases. Spending more than 1.5 hours for reunion dinners at restaurants and you face the risk of getting “chased out” by waitresses who are just following instructions to focus on turnover rate and revenue on this day.
And the endless queues at Lin Chi Yuan. One probably has to queue for 3 hours to pay $60 bucks on a box of bak kwa. Not me. I will probably have my bak kwa fix a month later than most and I am also pretty sure they are going to taste better since the peng-ers do not have to rush orders then.
But even though I am cutting down on the food, I am still pretty confident that I will be enjoying my Chinese New Year. By almost all measures, the food will still be delicious and I will still be consuming much more pastries than average. Moreover, I will be having good fun playing blackjack. Wish me good luck!
And Happy Chinese New Year to you too! Huat ah!