The eve of CNY, while some people are still on their way home, those who’re already there are busy.
Granny Cui is sixty years old.
Every year near CNY, she will take these hotpots out of storage and clean them.
These hotpots are made out of tin. They were originally used by members of the Manchurian nobility.
Cui and her husband run a Manchurian hotpot restaurant.
The day before CNY, preparations for reunion dinner start from the morning.
Boiled pork belly.
The meat comes from free range black pigs more than 12 months old.
The good thing about hotpot is that almost every type of ingredient can be cooked.
Small pieces of chicken.
Slices of suancai—sour vegetables.
Seafood is used as the soup stock: shrimp, crab, and oyster.
Dipping sauce is as varied as the ingredients used in hotpot.
People in the northeastern parts of China prefer diced garlic chives.
Together with sesame sauce, fermented bean curd, and minced garlic.
And chilli oil.
In another part of the village, Mrs Fu is still busy with the papercuts.
The papercuts and couplets will be pasted over windows, door frames, the pig pen, the chicken coop, and the dog house.
Scallions and celeries are used to make vegetarian dumplings as offerings to the gods.
Steamed buns are also used as offerings.
They use sorghum stalks dipped in red-coloured water to paint a red dot on top of each bun.
It’s a scene of organised chaos in the kitchen of the Fu house.
Mrs Fu is frying common carp.
The carp is then stewed with broad rice noodles.
One of her daughters-in-law is preparing ginger, chilli, and spring onions.
Everybody has a job: cooking, plating, and washing.
Eight big bowls of meat are surrounded by dishes of vegetables.
The centre is reserved for fish. The pronunciation of fish in Chinese sounds the same as 余, which means “surplus”. At the end of the year, everyone would like to have a big surplus (of money, time, energy, budget . . .)
After reunion dinner, most families start making dumplings together.
Grandkids kowtow and wish their grandma a happy CNY.
Their reward is a red envelope.
Most of the money would be spent on snacks and firecrackers.