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If you visit any town or city in the People’s Republic of China around Chinese New Year, you’ll be left in no doubt that there is a major celebration on. Tiny street-side stalls spring up selling bunting, stickers and envelopes – all bright red. The envelopes are for filling up with money and presenting to children; the bunting and stickers are for adorning public spaces and homes. The pavements are taken over with potted narangi trees, laden with the trademark golden orange fruits and the always chaotic markets go into overdrive as people busy themselves with last minute shopping.
The scene is markedly different here in Delhi, not so much because of the minuscule expatriate Chinese population, as because all of them make it a point to travel back to the homeland for this all-important festival. Chinese New Year is the time that families try every trick in the book to be together, if only for that all-important week of holidays. It is said to be the biggest migration of humans on the planet – bigger even, than the Hajj pilgrimage.
Food is one of the important constituents of Chinese New Year, and much of it derives from symbolism. The Mandarin word for tangerine is very similar to the word for luck and the word for orange is similar to that for wealth, hence the preponderance of miniature orange trees. Plus, oranges are golden – the colour that denotes prosperity. Eggs too have an ‘eternal’ shape: no beginning and no end, and hence, they too make their appearance on a Chinese New Year banquet table. Peking Duck, being red in colour, symbolizes prosperity, a whole roast chicken symbolizes unity (in this case, of the family) and noodles, being long, symbolize long life.
As the Year of the Sheep starts, the lone Chinese chef who has not gone back for Chinese New Year is Qiao Jian of Taipan at The Oberoi New Delhi. Consequently, if you want to sample a true New Year banquet with all the edible symbols, call: EazyConcierge. And Gong Xi Fa Cai to you!
Appearing incognito is The Phantom's style, so we are keeping this identity under wraps. What we can tell you is that this is one food critic that has earned the respect of restaurateurs and foodies alike. With an astute palate and an adventurous spirit, the Phantom Critic has more than 20 years of experience writing about food and reviewing restaurants