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Here’s a lesson I learned over the weekend: check the ingredients before you buy, or you might end up buying an innocent looking New Years snack tray:

Chinese New Years tray

and bringing this home:

candyingredients2

It says: Candy, Melon, Coconut, Lotus Nuts, Lotus Roots, Water Chestnut, Carrct, Tangerine Nuts, White Sugars, Butter Floub.

First of all, I’m pretty sure you can’t just say “candy,” especially when one of the varieties is durian candy.  I love the stuff, but I would guess about 80% of people probably hate durian.  Second, I didn’t know lotuses and tangerines had nuts, but I haven’t studied lotus and tangerine anatomy recently.  Anyways, clockwise from the top they are: candied carrots, dried melon, “candy,” coconut flakes, lotus root, candied water chestnuts, more “candy,” dried tangerines and lotus seeds in one compartment, and then the durian candy in the middle.

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Year of the Ox

The Chinese calendar follows the moon, so it falls on a different day each year on the Western calendar.  This year it falls on Monday, January 26th, which is pretty early. The year will be 4076, and it is the year of the ox.  I have no idea what that actually means and I would imagine most Chinese don’t either. Anyways, this holiday marks two things: (1) Spring, and (2) when the married adults give the unmarrieds money in red envelopes (hong=red, bao=packet).  I’ve been milking this for 29 years now, and I’m starting to wonder when my dad’s siblings will stop giving him hong bao to give to me.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate:

Some phrases (all in Cantonese transliteration):
“Gong Hay Faht Tsoi” – Happy new year (literally “congratulations, prosper”)
“Sun Leen Fai Lohk” – Happy new year (literally “new year happiness”)
“Lay See Dow Loi” – gimme my hong bao already

Places to get Asian food in Portland:
*Hong Kong Market @ Congress and St. John. My favorite because they take pity on my meager Chinese, are open 9-7 every day, and they have a great selection of candy, frozen foods, dry goods.

*Sun Oriental Market- Congress St. between State and High Streets. Korean-owned but lots of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian goods too.  Everything you need for sushi except the fish, but including sushi makers behind the counter.  They also have kitchen electronics and fabulous dishware.  The owners are also super-nice and will answer any questions you have. They also have an inordinate variety of miso mixes in the fridge.

*Mitpheap Asian Market: 61 Washington Ave. I went there once when it first opened and it was pretty tiny with not a lot of stuff.  The Press-Herald did a writeup on the owner awhile back.

Vientiane: Noyes @ Brighton. Went in here once; it was rather small and most of the dry goods had dust on them. Most of the stuff is Southeast Asian (i.e. Thai or Vietnamese). On the bright side, it’s connected to a restaurant you can also get fresh food there too.

*Haknuman Meanchey: 803 Forest Ave. Haven’t been here yet. Noticed it for the first time today while coming back from snowtubing in Windham. Will follow up.

New Year's munchies. All veg!

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