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Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Of course, I knew it was gonna be the year of the rabbit last month when I found this little bunny in the leftover sludge of my Turkish coffee:

Yes, I read my own fortune and found that my future would be February. Yes, it was totally anticlimactic. Yes, I’m a horrible coffee fortune interpreter.

Can you see the rabbit in the middle? Also I see an old man with a cane (on the left) and a Chet (the 8th letter in the Hebrew alphabet) on the right. So clearly, this means I’m going to win the lottery soon.

And that I’m going to have a 4-day weekend. Sweet.

We spent Christmas Eve in North Vietnam on a boat in Halong Bay. Yes, it felt as surreal as it sounds.

But at least we had some pretty nice Santa hats and a couple of gifts to open!

Then we sang some (what I can only assume were) Vietnamese Christmas carols.

We went out the next morning to catch ourselves a Christmas fish.  Mission unaccomplished, but we did find a lot of floating garbage bags.

And a cave too! With (what I can only assume are) Christmas lights!

All in all, a very memorable Christmas!

If these pictures don’t make your heart melt with holiday cheer, please check your pulse.


[cue booming voice]:

BEHOLD! The most magnificent menorah of all time!

[cue thunder]:

[cue lightnight]:

Feast your eyes upon our masterpiece of aluminum foil, tea lights, legit channukah candles, and an empty container of olive body scrub!

This event was so momentous, that it even required a skype teleconference with Hong Kong.

Happy Channukah!!

!חנוכה שמח

[side note: please excuse us in all our sweaty, post-run glory]

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Singapore like a true American? [pronounced “A-MUHR-ican”]

First you find a Turkey. Don’t worry – there are 7,000 Americans in Singapore and Cold Storage has prepared accordingly (thanks, researcher Crystal)!

Next, you should invite all the Americans you know (of the 7,000, you’ll probably know 10). Plus invite everyone else you know. And then tell them it’s OK to bring friends. Also, you should invite at least one stranger.

Basically, your house should look like the United Nations.

Once you realize how many people you’ve invited, you’ll probably want to panic. It’s OK – there’s a solution: make some Chicken Marabella.

An aside: when you realize the chicken still has a head, feet, feathers, and all its innards, don’t call your mother screaming (oops hehe). Also, don’t name the chicken. (poor little George…)

You’ll inevitably freak out the night before. This may involve pacing around the apartment, chattering incessantly, and getting very little sleep. Make sure you have the greatest roommates ever (je vous aime, S & M!) and you know 2 amazing people like this who will calm you down:

Don’t attempt to prepare alone. Try to enlist the help of some lovely, feisty Singaporean and South African ladies. Do you think mashed potatoes and stuffing make themselves?

Ideally you should invite a professional chef to this little shindig so someone can carve your turkey. It’s okay if the professional chef is British.

Warning: If you invite pretty French girls, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Englishman.

Eventually you’ll realize that you have enough food to feed an army. This means you’ll want to make sure people eat as much as possible.  Sentimental toasts, guilt trips, puppy eyes, and force-feeding are acceptable forms of coercion.

Your work is only done when you’ve given your guests so much food that they need to unbutton their pants. Bonus points if they undo the zipper.

And just when you think you might explode, continue by eating copious amounts of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and draining all wine bottles in sight.


[click here for the full picture album]

Dilemma: How do you fit 1 huge roasted turkey, 8 Americans, 4 Singaporeans, 5 French, 2 Malaysians, 1 South African, 1 Pakistani,  1 Indian, 1 Ghanaian and 1 Englishman in a moderately sized apartment?

Hopefully with a lot of love!

How can something so beautiful, and with a name that sounds so right, be so wrong?

I mean, I like the moon.  It’s all white and shiny and mysterious.  La luna, la lune…it sounds great in a lot of languages.  And cake – who doesn’t like cake?

But mooncake?  BLECH.

Mooncakes – traditional Chinese pastries for the Mid-Autumn festival – are everywhere in Singapore right now and it’s basically the nastiest dessert I’ve ever had in my life.  Imagine a delicate pastry, filled with an incredibly dense lotus seed paste (very bland, very sugary, and very fattening), and inside the paste there is an egg yolk.

Yes, an egg yolk.

Are you gagging yet?

There are a variety of fillings:

  • red bean paste
  • green tea
  • durian (this is the worst)
  • black sesame

and even some more unusual options like

  • beetroot with red wine
  • mung bean
  • champagne
  • pumpkin paste with melon seeds.

The price of just one of these handmade babies? Anywhere from $10 to $50 a pop.  Moreover, a single mooncake can pack 1000 calories!

Yes, you read correctly – that’s more than half your daily recommended calorie intake, friends.

I think I will have to admire these little beauties from behind the pastry case – rather than with the taste buds.  And perhaps with some dramatic Chinese music in the background… (check out lovely video from Szechuan Court below – they make it look so tasty!)

[photo credits: ulterior epicure and lifestyleasia]

Check out that view!  Some Brazilian friends of mine hosted a seder for Rosh Hashana from their apartment at the the Sail.

Do you have balcony-envy right now?  I totally have balcony-envy right now.

Anyways a lot of folks have been asking me about the symbolism of the New Year foods, and to be honest, I didn’t really know much beyond the pomegranate!

So, for the sake of my own education (and yours) I’ll show you the rockin’ seder plates that S & R put together to symbolize a sweet, prolific and successful new year:

1. Apples and Honey (not pictured): symbolizes a sweet new year.

2. Dates: An end to your enemies and those who wish evil upon you.

3. White beans: That your merits should increase and you should be heartened.

4. Carrots: Also that your merits should increase.

5. Leek: Again, that your enemies should be cut down.

6. Beet: That your enemies and those who wish evil upon you shall depart (are you sensing a theme here?).

7. Pumpkin: That the evil of your verdicts be ripped, and that your merits be announced.

8. Pomegranate: the seeds symbolize the 613 miztvot (commandments).

9. Gifilte fish (not pictured): That we should be fruitful and multiply like fish.

10. Fish head (not pictured): May you be a head and not a tail (i.e. a leader, not a follower).

So are you feeling enlightened?  I am.  How bout we ’round this evening out Singaporean style with a Tiger Beer.

Alright, who’s New Year is next?

Just in case you didn’t get your fix on January 1…  Or again in February…

A good and sweet new year to you all!  Happy 5771

Image via: Ayesha’s Kitchen

Western New Year? One day.  Jewish New Year?  Two days.  Vietnamese New Year? Three days.  Chinese New Year?  FIFTEEN DAYS.  You might ask: What’s the big deal?  I might tell you: The big deal is that I have a little issue, and I’ve just realized that it’s now a 15 day issue:

I’m addicted to Chinese New Year cookies.   Seriously.  I. need. help.

They’re absolutely everywhere and I can’t escape them!  There is a cookie bakery at the corner of my MRT stop, so every day I’m starting my morning by smelling the buttery goodness (probably more like “ghee-y” goodness).  Even in the office there are dozens of cookie jars, strategically located about 10 meters away from my computer, so I’m forced to stare at them any time I go to the printer.  If I go to a meeting, the secretary will put out bottles of water and…you guessed it…CNY cookies.  People give me cookies as gifts.  One day I tried to swear off all Chinese New Year cookies and then (a mere 2 hours after my vow) an 80-year-old woman insisted I taste one of her home-baked pineapple tart cookies.  Just try saying no to a Chinese auntie!

Consider this my admission of a problem.  Is there a second step?

[photo credit: James Carrier & Simply Anne’s]
December 2019
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