"How do I eat this?"
"What do you call this?"
I was more than happy to answer their questions. There was plenty of food for the steamboat. We did two variety- original Chinese soup base and Husband's tomyam soup. He said that some Malays might find the original taste too bland. I had to show them the correct way of putting the ingredients into the pot and how to eat the cooked food. As it turned out, my soup was more popular than Husband's, hehehee.
"Dessert.. ginkgo baloba," said Husband when I put bowls of the sweet dessert on the table for the guests.
"The Hokkien Chinese call this 'pek kueh'. the Cantonese call it 'pak koh'" I explained, telling them that the dessert made of gingko, red dates and dried longan is famous during Chinese New Year. And I also showed them the uncooked and unpeeled gingko, as they had never eaten it before.
"When shall we eat that, dear? Everyone's waiting!" Husband sounded very eager to try out the food that I had arranged on a big plate.
"Ok, we can eat now."
"What's this called?" asked a friend.
"It's yee-sang. Made of dried yam, pomeloes, carrots, etc. Don't worry, it's halal.. see, it's written on the label ,'vegetarian yee sang." I explained as I showed them the label of the prepacked yee sang bought at the hypermarket..
|Tossing the yee sang... the children enjoyed it, hahaa|
"Follow me. Everyone hold the chopsticks like this and toss the food as high as you can.. mix the ingredients together.. Chinese say 'loh hei, loh hei' as they do this," I demonstrated. Everybody started to follow suit.
"Nice.. sedap laaa." they commented, tasting the yee sang for the first time in their lives.
While eating, the Malay guests asked me many questions about the Chinese custom during this special day, the do's and don'ts and what would be considered syirik. I explained as much as I could, based on my knowledge and experiences.
Alhamdulillah, thanks to Allah SWT for allowing us to have the special Chinese New Year lunch with friends and helping everyone to learn and appreciate Chinese culture. This is very different from my first Chinese New Year day as a Muslimah back in February 2007 which I had to spend it alone in my empty hostel because I was barred from returning home by my still-angry parents.
note: Been busy with Ihsan's sickness [tonsillitis - alhamdulillah, recovering], Ikram's activeness, and yours truly's current poor health :(