One cannot ring in the lunar new year without continually consuming vast amounts of food. It’s all ridiculously tasty (this is Southeast Asia, after all), ridiculously available in ridiculous amounts, and you generally get swept up in the I-haven’t-eaten-in-6-months fervor when its spread out. Mum, Flemming and I went to my cousin Simon’s for reunion dinner on New Year’s eve, Mum cooked up a storm on the first day, we swung by cousin Simon’s again on Sunday, and cousin Frankie’s on the Monday.
Talk, food, and mahjong.
By Monday evening, I’d eaten enough for about 60 people. In 3.5 days. I can probably only name half of what I consumed; flavours of my childhood occupy the store room of my mind, their names requiring some effort to unearth, delicious though they are.
I briefly contemplated a week long fast while fighting a food coma when the long weekend was over, then someone opened up a bottle of chi gu chips. #Yummeh.
This year I learned a few things about mahjong, which Mum has been playing with my cousins for the last few years. I have no understanding of the game, and mostly just hang around watching the show, as everyone in Mum’s side of the family is loud (the Cantonese are fierce, resonant speakers) and generally entertaining to watch in action.
I did however, get three important things:
- 3 similar tiles is a pong
- 4 similar tiles is a gong
- Mahjong is a legit form of exercise
Pongs and gongs require everyone else to hand over a certain amount of money to the pong-er / gong-er, and the exercise part refers to how mahjong tiles are shuffled – swept clacking around the table by 4 pairs of hands, like in the video below:
It’s hard work, I hear. Mahjong is also fondly known as “dry swimming.” It’s an activity that will likely rob you of calories and currency, though possibly more of the latter than the former! I’ll never learn to play… if for no other reason than I’m too much of a cheapskate to learn. A game of mahjong typically involves 4 players, and “tuition” is arbitrarily expensive, depending on the 3 who are teaching you!
I hear Flemming wants to learn though, so I wish him much success and a lotto win!
You can count on us to find Fujis in unusual places: