Ever since my sister Daffy got married in 1973, mum and I always eat the Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner at her home.
This is because my parents had rather unusual domestic arrangements with my late father choosing to live in the family home in Mt Emily Road while the rest of his household lived elsewhere. Separate but connected throughout the years!
My sister began her married life as a nuclear unit so there were no in-laws in her home. However mum made sure we got clearance from her widowed mother-in-law to eat the reunion dinner at the newly weds’ home, which was given with alacrity and one stipulation: just bring a pair of oranges. Which we duly did and still do.
What’s the reason for that stipulation I don’t know and it’s been so long — almost 4 decades since we’ve been doing that — that I don’t know if it’s not another of my mother’s stories to parry curious friends who questioned the rather “untraditional” way for the bride’s side to have New Year’s Eve dinner with the son-in-law while his widowed mum ate that once a year meal with her own daughter and son-in-law.
“Untraditional” because this practice began in the early 70s when the Chinese in Singapore were much more tradition-bound than they are today.
With this preamble, below are some pix of part of the spread that we dined on last night. The menu has hardly varied over the years, comprising dishes cooked by my b-i-l from offerings that had been made to his ancestors earlier on.
Lightly boiled chicken, sliced abalone, lightly poached lettuce, a bit of roast pork and so on. Simple, old-fashioned Cantonese country food style that his parents brought from Baoan, Southern China to pre-war Singapore.