A Vegan Lunar New Year
by Ali Seiter
Before commencing today’s post, I’m thrilled to inform you that the Queer Vegan Food cookbook, to which I’m honored to have contributed, has just launched! Rife with unique, creative recipes from a number of astounding vegan blogging activists and compiled by the always lovely Sarah E. Brown, the book benefits Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, which receives all of the profit generated from the book. Recipe contributors include myself, Gena Hamshaw, Carol Adams, Rory Freedman, Allyson Kramer, Christy Morgan, JL Fields, Lisa Pitman, Mark Hawthorne, and more. Head on over to Queer Vegan Food to order your copy today!
With over a quarter of Ferry’s members of Chinese descent, it seemed only fitting to throw a house dinner celebration in honor of the Lunar New Year of the Snake, which began yesterday on February 10. Due to my complete lack of familiarity with the holiday, I will not attempt to describe the various origins and traditions associated with it—lest I end up unintentionally yet utterly disrespecting Chinese culture—but will attest that, from what my Chinese housemates proclaimed, the Lunar New Year constitutes the absolute most important and cherished of the traditional Chinese holidays. Indeed, in the days leading up to the festival, my two Singaporean housemates lamented missing the incredible bounty of celebrations soon to ensue in their native land, but looked forward to recreating them with our loving and culturally curious Ferry community.
Culinary preparations for the well-attended dinner began at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, at which point tantalizing aromas immediately began wafting throughout the entire house. As mealtime drew nearer, intrigued Fairies trickled into the kitchen/dining room area, eager to assist in and learn about traditional Chinese cooking techniques. By 6:00, many otherwise Westernized Fairies had (almost) perfected their dumpling-folding techniques, while those truly well-versed in Chinese cuisine produced steaming skillets teeming with fragrant stir-fries of tofu, veggies, and rice.
The astoundingly delicious menu included dumplings and scallion pancakes for the gluten-eaters (i.e. everyone in the house except myself), as well as brown rice; a stir-fry of tofu, green beans, and cauliflower; a similar stir-fry of tofu, mushrooms, and cabbage; and a Szechuan (read: incredibly spicy) soft tofu stir-fry made with spicy black bean paste. Dessert boasted a sweet potato-red bean paste and a sticky coconut pudding. Needless to say, everyone present at the dinner celebration—both Ferry members and outside friends—devoured every dish on the buffet table, ardently requesting that our dear Chinese Fairies cook traditional dishes every night.
Soon after serving all of the hot dishes, the cooks brought out platters of shredded pickled vegetables, drizzled a viscous dressing on top, and began tossing the salad as high as possible into the air with chopsticks in a tradition called yusheng, lo hei, or Prosperity Toss, believed to bring longevity to whomever can toss the salad the highest. The salad usually contains raw fish, but that doesn’t jive with how Ferry operates.
Honored that the Chinese members of Ferry felt comfortable enough to share their cherished holiday traditions with us, I’m once again reminded at the truly special community we’ve cultivated here in Ferry House—one of cultural tolerance, wordly awareness, and acceptance of differences…and damn good food.
Until next time, Ali.