CBC News
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Chinese banquet dinner

wong-jessica-52.jpg
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.

cbcfoodbytes-friedoyster.jpg
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.

cbcfoodbytes-abalone.jpg
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).

cbcfoodbytes-redbeanbuns.jpg
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.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

A. Lau

Calgary

Great pics! I took these banquets for granted as a kid, but boy, do I love every one of them now.

Posted April 11, 2009 09:30 AM

Fiona

Vancouver

Very proud of the Chinese cuisine. It is not only a delicacy but a piece of art.

Posted April 12, 2009 10:47 AM

Alan Chan

Very nice post, the food looks awesome! Where is this restaurant located? I love they way they prepared the food.

Posted April 16, 2009 08:18 AM

Simon

Victoria

Man, you are making me hungry.

Did everyone wait patiently until you took these pictures before eating?

I loved these gatherings. Always so much delicious food.

Posted April 16, 2009 12:37 PM

Peter Leung

The pictures make me mouth watering. I wish I was there.
Peter

Posted April 18, 2009 01:22 AM

John Roy

Hamilton

Enjoyed the pictures and the description about mouthwatering Chinese food. I worked in Chna for 7 years as an English teacher and enjoyed delicious banquets either as welcome dinners or at weddings.

One major concern. I don't think I had shark fin soup more than a few times and since then have found that this is a dish totally based on waste and cruelty. Apparently there is a whole industry based in Taiwan that catches sharks, cuts off their fins and throws the mutilated shark back. This is cruel enough and it is hard to get anyone to sympathize with sharks BUT it seems the reduction in this top predator is beginning to have negative effects on the whole ecology of the ocean food chain.

Of course ,Its not your fault and I realize there is no way one can refuse to try the shark find soup at a 50th anniversary party without deeply offending everyone!

Posted April 20, 2009 10:18 AM

Tim Hoang

surrey

I don't understand why Chinese cuisine never has fresh vegetables. The vegetables must be cooked one way or another. So it's a delicious cuisine but not a healthy one.

Posted April 21, 2009 02:06 PM

Jessica Wong

Toronto

John Roy: I've also heard terrible things about how the shark fin is typically harvested for this soup, but I admit I was too weak-willed to turn it down. My partner did, though.

Posted April 22, 2009 01:56 PM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Food Bytes »



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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Related

Food features

Recent Posts

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

Archives

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)

Categories

Agriculture (12)
Amber Hildebrandt (22)
Amuse-bouche (32)
Andree Lau (26)
Culture (43)
Elizabeth Bridge (8)
Health (14)
Industry (28)
Jessica Wong (27)
Kevin Yarr (16)
Leigh Felesky (3)
Politics (11)
Tara Kimura (29)
Trends (34)
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

FIFA soccer officials arrested in Switzerland in U.S. bribery probe
Six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich.
New Rick Santorum expected to launch another presidential bid Wednesday
An aggressive advocate for conservative family values, 57-year-old Republican Rick Santorum is announcing his presidential intentions on Wednesday. He is all but certain to enter the contest — one that would test his clout in a dramatically different presidential field.
Nepal earthquake victims without shelter ahead of monsoon rains
A senior UN official who just returned from Nepal says the top priority now is finding temporary housing for hundreds of thousands of people before monsoon rains begin.
more »

Canada »

Cancer cases projected to rise 40% in 15 years as population ages, grows
New cancer cases are expected to increase by about 40 per cent by 2030 as the population ages and grows, the Canadian Cancer Society says.
Analysis Is the Senate creating a double-standard with expense scandal arbitrator? video
When Auditor General Michael Ferguson delivers his report on senators’ spending next week, it won’t be the final word on who played by the rules and who didn’t.
Video For Ian Tyson, WWI project becomes personal video
Ian Tyson was the perfect candidate for a Heritage Canada project to pair iconic songs and military bands to honour Canada's World War I history.
more »

Politics »

Analysis Is the Senate creating a double-standard with expense scandal arbitrator? video
When Auditor General Michael Ferguson delivers his report on senators’ spending next week, it won’t be the final word on who played by the rules and who didn’t.
10 senators to be referred to RCMP, Auditor General Michael Ferguson says video
Auditor General Michael Ferguson says he will recommend that 10 of the senate expense cases investigated by his office be referred to the RCMP.
Analysis CPP expansion: Has Stephen Harper flip-flopped on the idea? video
The announcement that the federal Conservatives are looking into the expansion of the Canadian Pension Plan may strike some political observers as a shocking flip flop, given their past opposition to the idea.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Video For Ian Tyson, WWI project becomes personal video
Ian Tyson was the perfect candidate for a Heritage Canada project to pair iconic songs and military bands to honour Canada's World War I history.
Sam Shepard arrested on suspicion of drunk driving
Actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard was arrested Monday on suspicion of drunken driving after a Santa Fe restaurant's security complained about a possibly intoxicated driver.
Petition calls for boycott of Canadian venues booking Black Pussy
An online petition is calling on concertgoers to boycott venues that book the U.S. band Black Pussy for what it calls a racist and misogynistic name.
more »

Technology & Science »

Is Europa habitable? NASA mission will use these 9 instruments to find out
NASA has unveiled how a spacecraft bound for Europa will figure out if the Jupiter moon has the right conditions for life, as many scientists think it may.
Rampant telecom surveillance conducted with little transparency, oversight
Canadian telecommunications providers have been handing over vast amounts of customer information to law enforcement and government departments and agencies with little transparency or oversight, a new report says.
Pranksters publish secretly-recorded public conversations to make point about NSA
New York artists posing as 'freelance' NSA agents are secretly recording the private conversations people have in restaurants, and then publishing them online for all to hear.
more »

Money »

Analysis CPP expansion: Has Stephen Harper flip-flopped on the idea? video
The announcement that the federal Conservatives are looking into the expansion of the Canadian Pension Plan may strike some political observers as a shocking flip flop, given their past opposition to the idea.
5 people give their 2 cents to Alberta's new energy minister video
Marg McCuaig-Boyd might just have the hardest job in Alberta right now. With that in mind, we have collected one piece of advice from five people, including one who held the energy minister job and another who struck panic in the heart of the oilpatch.
Lobster fisheries in N.S. and N.B. certified sustainable
Lobsters caught in the Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence can now be sold in global markets that require third-party certification.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
NHL playoffs: 3 stories from Rangers-Lightning Game 6 video
The opportunity was there for the Tampa Bay Lightning. One win away from their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the game on home ice. The New York Rangers didn't cooperate, however, forcing a Game 7. Here are three stories from Game 6 in Tampa.
Recap Rangers defeat Lightning to force Game 7 video
Derek Brassard had a hat trick and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots in another season-saving performance as the New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 Tuesday night to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals.
Recap Cavs destroy Hawks to close out series in Game 4 video
LeBron James scored 23 points, Kyrie Irving returned after missing two games and the Cleveland Cavaliers reserved a spot in the NBA Finals with a 118-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night to win the Eastern Conference title.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »