Celebrating Birthdays and the Chinese New Year

On Friday evening I attended a Chinese New Year event for a freelance assignment I was working on. I mentioned last week that I was just a little nervous going into it because I was on my own and I wouldn’t know anyone, and I suspected I might stand out, which, I totally did. But everyone was super nice and welcoming and it was QUITE a time ringing in the Year of the Rooster.

I think it was my first time seeing a Chinese lion dance in person, so that was pretty intense. I really enjoyed it. I initially was calling it a dragon dance but I looked it up and there is a difference — dragon dances typically have many people acting as the dragon, while the lions only have two (per lion). I was not aware of that. The lions danced to the beat of a drum and were fed lettuce, which somehow symbolizes getting rich. These days the dances are just for show or competition but I guess it was originally believed that the lion would chase away the evil spirit Nian–who feared lions.

There were many giveaways throughout the evening, one was straight up hundred dolla bills, y’all (keeping up with the get rich theme), which THREE PEOPLE at every single table won, but one of those people was not me. Of course. But that’s okay, ’cause you know what I won? A jar of Auntie Hung’s gingered walnuts.

Which were freakin’ delicious. I don’t need no $100 ’cause I have these fantastic walnuts, which are priceless. Evan says I didn’t win $100 because I wasn’t channeling my Chinese “bring the money to me” vibe, which could be true. But I think I didn’t win because I just don’t win things.

There was also a live band that sang throughout the evening.

They were really good, though it was mostly in Chinese. But there were a few English songs thrown in! Just for me.

The people at my table were fabulous, and one woman and her husband totally took me under their wing and made sure that I always got food first and my drink was always full for toasting (there was a lot of toasting). And they explained what was happening onstage because it was also mostly in Chinese, so that was helpful. The servers brought me a knife and fork for eating but GUYS. I know my way around chopsticks! When I started using them my table friends started cheering and giving me the thumbs up. I felt proud.

So the food. I think there were eight courses plus dessert, I sort of lost track but it felt never ending. We started with the crispy pork skin and noodles (edit: those noodles are jellyfish! A got a couple of corrections. I remember a lady at my table saying “sea noodles” so jellyfish makes sense. It was hard to follow sometimes.)

It was pretty good. I ate nearly every last bite of everything in front of me because everyone at my table was watching me and would ask “do you like?!” after my first bite. I would nod enthusiastically. I did like! I liked this the most:

That was my favourite dish for sure.

I thought this was hot and sour soup so I got really excited because I LOVE hot and sour soup, but it was neither hot nor sour, sadly.

It wasn’t bad though, I ate it.

Chicken…

And the fish.

I can’t lie I felt a bit weird about the fish arriving at our table with its head and tail still intact but I was pleasantly surprised about it. It didn’t taste fishy at all and I really liked the taste of the sauce it was in, so, I enjoyed.

Dessert was a sort cold red bean soup with jello in it, which definitely was not something I’m used to, but I actually kind of liked it and I ate it all.

The highlight of the evening was definitely the limbo contest. I did not partake (I’m a large white lady, I could not compete) but watching it gave me great pleasure. It was hilarious.

It was quite a night and I learned a lot and I made some new friends, so that’s a success!

I had a sore throat on Thursday and Friday and as soon as I got home Friday evening it was BOOM. Full on cold. So I cancelled my Orangetheory class on Saturday morning and spent the day mostly leisuring and trying to get better until it was time for Evan and I to head out to our friend Sherrie’s birthday party.

I got that inflatable picture frame at some random store in the Distillery District, such a find.

Sherrie had her birthday at the same bar as last year, The Edge Lounge in Ajax, since we loved it so much. Last year was a highlight for me because my bestie Lisa was in town so I didn’t think this year could top it, but I dunno, it was pretty close.

I was feeling pretty crappy when I first arrived and I was wondering how I was going to get through the night… But then I sort of picked up on everyone else’s energy and the adrenaline kept me going. Evan and I ended up almost closing the place down and I had such a great time!

We had some glasses switching going on…

And a LOT of dancing. I had a bunch of videos on my Snapchat but didn’t take a lot of photos — I keep doing this lately, snapchatting and forgetting to save. Oh well, it was a time.

That was at the very end of the night when we were about to leave so we missed a bunch of people, so last year’s picture for context.

Good times. And now I am off to California! I won’t be blogging while I’m away but I would recommend checking out Cely’s blog next week ’cause I suspect she’ll have some stories up. California is really trying to thwart my visit with their dams breaking and their snowstorms and the sides of their mountains sliding off but I will not be deterred! And you know I’ll be spamming snapchat and instagram with our adventures. Have a great weekend!!!

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6 responses to “Celebrating Birthdays and the Chinese New Year

  1. On my honeymoon in Maui, I ordered fish for dinner one night. The entire fish was on my plate (like yours). I had no idea what to do. I sat there until the waiter came over because he saw my confusion and I asked him to cut it for me. Not my best moment.

    Are those Zenni’s on Evan?! 🙂

    Have the best time in CA! I will be there as well. Just more South. I’m sorry to miss it!

  2. I loved seeing your snaps for the Chinese New Year event! (I’m Chinese). But I have to say that the noodles with the pork skin is actually jelly fish!! We used to call then “rubber bands” when we were young.

    • Ah thank you for the correction! I’ll fix it. I was wondering because I thought someone at our table said something about sea noodles so I was like “seaweed?” but then when I was looking at the photo it did not look like seaweed, so jellyfish makes sense!

      • No problem! I guess sea noodles are more appetizing? but they were definitely the first to go when we were kids.

  3. Long time reader, first time commenter. I love reading your blog 🙂

    Just had to comment, I don’t think those aren’t noodles. It looks like jellyfish to me, which is a pretty common and traditional Chinese appetizer! Glad you enjoyed them.

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