Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eurasian CNY

February 7 and 8 were the official Chinese New Year public holidays in Singapore, but we celebrated our CNY a week early at a fundraiser for the local Eurasian Association, thanks once again to the urging of our friend Monica.

No, we’re not exactly Eurasian, although I suppose our combined Irish and Chinese heritage might qualify the two of us in a pinch. Here in Singapore, many Eurasians are of mixed Portuguese and Cantonese descent (Portuguese settlers colonized Macao, near Hong Kong), but many other cultures are represented as well. Sitting next to me was a friend of Monica’s whose family was from a part of northern India settled hundreds of years ago by Italians. (Who knew?)

Our CNY-themed lunch began with a classic lion dance by a cadre of adorable lions that turned and leaped on delicately pointed toes as they peeled oranges and spat out chocolate coins and hong bao. We tossed lo hei (yu sheng), just as we’d done the year before.

But there were some new twists. For one thing, the traditional Chinese dishes we ate were cooked in a Eurasian style, influenced by Portuguese spices.

And as we ate, a singer with an elaborately coiffed pompadour belted out not only the usual Cantonese new-year songs but also Latin tunes, including that perpetual favorite, La Bamba. Unfortunately, for some reason we hadn’t thought to brush up on our salsa skills for our stint in Singapore...

And as at any proper fundraiser, the bingo caller soon arrived, and we bought the obligatory card for a good cause.

But we soon discovered that, rather than bingo, this was tombola, the Italian version. Would you have any idea how to play a card that looked like this?

Still, when we left at the end with our pairs of oranges and our hong bao party favors, we were feeling traditional enough to stop by and pick up a CNY decoration to hang on the wall at home. This one seemed singularly appropriate; after all, it is the year of the rat!


venitha said...

Happy new year from Barcelona, guys! Jim is here for work, and Zoe and I tagged along. I'm using Zoe's nap time to catch up on blogs, of course. I'm so glad it sounds like you're still enjoying Singapore (just watch out for those chopers). Ahhh fresh mango - I do hope you're around when the ones you grew yourselves are finally ready.

Andrew said...

I don't think Mickey would take too kindly to being called a rat!

And I'd have no idea what to do with that bingo card, but I'd love to learn! Maybe you can explain it to me someday.