Chinese New Year (next Sunday 14 Feb) is everywhere. It features in shop sales (if you’re lucky, combined this year with Valentine’s sales) and a bizarre array of specialist goods. Celophaned gift packs are everywhere. Even branches of HSBC had a selection of fruit, tins, wine and sweets on sale in the branches. Expensive specialist hampers would have bird nests and sharks fins; the cheaper end of the market would have biscuits.
Boxes of mandarin oranges were a favourite, and home-made biscuits and sweets were on sale everywhere. The family acquired supplies of all of these, piled up in corners of the living room as if they were preparing for some disaster. Little jars of biscuits would be shared with visitors, and collections of soft drinks and beer cans would appear.
Wine is far more visible. I remember last year there were a few occasional bottles of weird-tasting wine. This time it was a common element in the hampers and the family brought a carefully chosen selection to the banquet.
A few things we didn’t taste; the caramelised sugar syrup wrapped in pandan leaf boxes.