“See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” Matthew 22:4
For the third time running, we will be celebrating Chinese New Year under the cloud of the pandemic. This will include restrictions to guests and border-crossing. Being an ex-Malaysian, this will mean that I have not been with the Wongs in our family home in Petaling Jaya (Malaysia) for a while now. Yes, I miss returning to our past. The same dining table where my Mother used to fussed around in preparation for the all-important Reunion Dinner on CNY Eve. We can expect dishes like Har Look (river prawns cooked in a black bean sauce), Lo Hon Jai (mixed vegetables) , steamed chicken, Jiu Hu Char (turnip and dried squid) or Yin Tai (braised pork knuckles). These dishes have stayed in my palate memories, which I have attempted to recreate. I have blogged these experiences at foodcanon.com and in my cookbook. I am sure you will have your own family tradition, may it be Hakka, Hokkien or Nonya. For most Chinese folks in the diaspora, there will be a fusion of various traditions. I will always advise that we should avoid trying to copy the dishes we enjoy at modern Chinese restaurants. Instead, focus on recreating your family tradition. Keep the modern inventions to dinners on other occasions. Even humble dishes should be returned to as long as it reminds the family of our past. Perhaps, by keeping these dishes alive, we can encourage the younger generation to celebrate and continuing our family traditions. The Bible refers to meals as homecoming events, such as the Parable of the Banquet (Luke 14:15-24). With each meal, whether in our homes or in church at the Lord's Supper, we anticipate the great gathering in heaven with Christ. In fact, the Church eats together as it gathers to partake in Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Christians are simply doing what they were commanded to do by Jesus. In doing so, they experience once again welcome and acceptance into God’s family, the rest He provides from the toils and troubles of life and celebrate His goodness. Christians are simply grateful that they are forgiven and accepted by the Father, and they remember this over a spiritual meal. This we will experience again during our coming Communion weekend. We continue to pray that the day will come (soon) when we can eat together in church again. For to eat together is to gather and celebrate our friendships in Christ.
And here is wishing each of you a very blessed Chinese New Year!