Chinese banquet dinner
Thursday, April 9, 2009 | 01:47 PM ET
by Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca
I've always envied families that maintain annual dinner traditions, for instance carving up a turkey for Thanksgiving or gathering for the Passover Seder.
A plate of large oysters in a sweet glaze. (Jessica Wong/CBC)
So, I felt extremely lucky to partake in a different kind of traditional meal last weekend: a Chinese banquet dinner to celebrate my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary.
The Chinese have banquet dinners to commemorate a variety of occasions. I recall attending many while growing up — it seemed like there were at least three or four wedding receptions, milestone birthday parties and month-old newborn celebrations every year! But the lavish, incredibly rich, multi-course meals tend to be rare these days.
Perhaps they've been axed by the move towards healthier and more sustainable eating or by more cost-conscious diners amid tougher economic times? Have they simply fallen out of favour?
Whatever the reason, I relished both the mini-family reunion Sunday night as well as the wondrous spread that was selected for us.
Healthy-sized abalone sided with sauteed greens. (Jessica Wong/CBC)
The night's menu did skip over a few of my favourite banquet stalwarts — no prawn-stuffed crab claws, no cold appetizer plate of crispy roast meats and chilled, sesame-infused jellyfish (boo).
That said, I relished the parade of symbolic foods the wait staff presented to us with a flourish, including dishes of roast pork, steamed fish, stir-fried lobster and deep-fried chicken presented whole (specifically with the head and tails arranged on the plate) to denote longevity and completeness; courses laden with massive morsels of luxurious seafood to indulge the many guests; and delicious peach-shaped sweet buns filled with red-bean paste (fluffy little bundles signfying a wish for long life).
So cute! Steamed, peach-shaped buns filled with sweet red-bean paste. (Jessica Wong/CBC)
Kudos to the wait staff who, after laying down each family-style platter, also patiently held back their individual portioning until I — and others at my table — could capture our requisite foodie snaps. One waitress even chided me to re-take my shot after realizing that I was photographing the fried chicken from the posterior instead of headfirst. Check out some of my pics here.
Though it's always adventurous to try new cuisines, there's something to be said for sticking with tradition, too.
This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.
Post a Comment
About the blog
From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
- Sustainable sushi guide in your pocket
- Wednesday, April 22, 2009
- Recession puts value high on the menu
- Monday, April 20, 2009
- The real thing
- Monday, April 20, 2009
- Infinite joy
- Tuesday, April 14, 2009
- This is why you're fat
- Saturday, April 11, 2009
- Subscribe to Food Bytes
- April 2009 (11)
- March 2009 (10)
- February 2009 (9)
- January 2009 (9)
- December 2008 (16)
- November 2008 (13)
- October 2008 (12)
- September 2008 (11)
- August 2008 (9)
- July 2008 (12)
- June 2008 (10)
- May 2008 (16)