Monday, 2 February 2009

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Manchester 2009

My first blog for the new year, so Happy New Year and also Happy Chinese New Year for those celebrating. The weather has been really cold lately and I have not spent as much time in the kitchen as I would have liked to, as it has no central heating in it. Hence, the break since my last blog. Come spring, and I should be more in the mood to experiment further in the kitchen. I also have a few more stories to tell from my last visit to Malaysia and I will try to drop them in occassionally.


On Sunday 1/2/09, Manchester Chinatown celebrated Chinese New Year in the most extravagant event of the year so far. The celebrations were held in two venues, outside the City Hall and in the centre of Chinatown. The weather was barely above freezing, but it did not deter the crowds, majority non- Chinese, from turning up. This is not to say that there were only a few Chinese, but we account for such a small proportion of the UK population, even if we all turned up, we'd still be outnumbered by the others. It was great to see people from all other walks of life making attempts to learn more about the Chinese culture, despite the fact that many stalls were obviously setup to exploit those who knew little... I will show a little more about this further down.


It was 12pm and Princess Road, which cuts through the city centre, were closed to traffic and there was a huge crowd gathered in anticipation....
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.. for this! A huge 15 metre Dragon dance, which danced for 30 minutes in front of the City Hall before making its way into Chinatown.
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There were also other shows on a specially erected stage. Lilke this impressive acrobat show from a troupe from Yunan. All paid for by the City Council.
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Moving into the heart of Chinatown, and there was a sea of people with lots of roadside stalls selling goods and services related to the occassion.
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This stall had tacky goods which were lapped up by mainly non-Chinese.
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And this one too! Loads of parents bought these cheap paper dragons for their kids to wave about.
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You had to pay £1.50 for someone to write your name in Chinese with a calligraphy pen.
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I dont even know what this is suppose to mean!
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This was a genuine religious stall, in that you were given free lighted incense / joss sticks to dedicate to the buddha statue. I dont know what the furtune cookie packets had anything to do with buddhism though.
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As for food, well, that's what the Chinese are known for in the UK, and the amount of food stalls we saw today did little to disprove the stereotype. What surprised me this year is that there are more stalls selling "Thai" food than any other types of food. I said that in inverted commas because the majority of the food dished out here were not in the slightest bit authentic and way overpriced. It would not have cost much more to eat in the warmth and comfort of a restaurant.

The stall pictured here sold Thai food.
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More Thai food. This was one of the better stalls which looked like they made some effort with the food they sold.
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This one looked impressive. Also Thai ... but he was actually reheating the noodles in a wok rather than actually cooking then in front of the customer. The guy behind him was grilling Thai satay ..not sure if that was fresh or also just reheating.
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These lovely ladies were actually cooking Thai satay from scratch. Smelt lovely too, but too expensive for me to want to buy them.... 4 sticks for £3!
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This Thai bbq chicken also smelt gorgeous!
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These ladies were doing vegetarian fried noodles and rice. Did not look too appetising to me, as, they overloaded the wok and the flames were too low. Definitely no "wok hei" there! But it would have looked impressive to the uninitiated!
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Some examples of the exorbitant prices charged! The fried noodles and rice dishes either don't or contained little meat!
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Wow! £1 for a cup of hot water with a couple of dried chinese tea leaves diluted in it!
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Look at the state of the bins! The food cant have been that good, for people to throw away so much of it! Looks like its going to be a feast for Mickey and Minnie tonight!
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After all that walking around, we sat down for a meal in a restaurant and managed to order a portion of roast suckling pig. This little portion cost us £13. In the UK, a pig cannot be slaughtered under 8 weeks old. Hence, it has become quite meaty by then and also the skin has grown thicker than those eaten in South East Asia. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the treat thoroughly!
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However, it cannot be compared to this half pig we had at Greenview Restaurant, Section 19, PJ in Malaysia,a few months ago, during our hols!
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4 comments:

ling239 said...

Happy CNY!! ^_^
i have yet to see any lion dance here....

babe_kl said...

kung hei fatt choy!!!

wmw said...

Dropping by to say Hi!

Lannae said...

Happy CNY! The roasted pork looked good! I am glad you have enough population to have such large celebration.