Among all the Chinoy traditions that have been passed down through the generations, my favorite ones would have to be those that are related to food.
And I’m not saying this just because of how good Chinese food is! Beyond that, there is just something about the way we prepare, eat, and even serve food that speaks volumes about the cultural values that we share. Eating in a Chinoy household is not only about satisfying our bellies. It’s about spending time together and celebrating life in the best way possible — by keeping everyone happy, full, and healthy!
All this, of course, is held together by some special traditions that many Chinoy families still maintain to this day. Which one is your favorite?
1. Eating with a Lazy Susan
You know that iconic spinny turntable that’s in every decent Chinese restaurant? Yeah, that’s called a Lazy Susan. Do we know who Susan is? No, but we will thank her for allowing Chinese cuisine to be so easily shared among the family. It just makes it that much faster to steal that last piece of hakaw that’s on the other side of the table!
2. Leaving the Last Piece
Oops. Did we say that we’re stealing the last piece of hakaw?! Sorry, Mom. We meant that we’re stealing the second-to-the-last piece. We’ll offer the last piece to one of the ahmas instead. Of course, we will never steal the last piece. (We have manners. We will only politely beg if truly desperate.)
3. Serving Elders
Fun fact: Filial piety is very important in Chinese households. This means that, according to the hierarchy of our generations, ahmas and angkongs get first dibs. Basically, we should offer them the first hakaw, too.
4. Accepting (Healthy) Food from Elders
Being family means that you are loved, and love is often expressed with the amount of healthy foods that is served onto your plate. Whether it’s the sibut soup that’s steeped with four traditional herbs or the apple slices that’s brought up to your room, be sure to express your gratitude by eating what’s good for you.
5. Eating Birthday Noodles
Are you really Chinoy if you don’t have noodles on your birthday? Sometimes, it’s misua; other times, it’s pancit. The point is you don’t want to miss an opportunity to wish for a long and healthy life.
6. Eating Birthday Eggs
Just like noodles, eggs are important to eat on birthdays not only because they symbolize a new life, but also because they represent fertility. The simplest way to eat them is to have them hard-boiled. But personally, we also love fulfilling our egg quotas with the quek-quek (read: quail eggs deep-fried in orange batter) served in birthday pancit!
7. Eating Lugaw with Pork Floss
Even despite our best efforts to lead healthy and strong lives, there are times when we inevitably end up getting sick. In this case, the best food to eat is something that can easily be digested. Of course, a bowl of steaming lugaw topped with maho or pork floss can perfectly do the trick!
8. Drinking Hot Water
Does your ahma ever scold you for drinking cold water? It’s hard to let go of the refreshing goodness that is found in most icy beverages, but maybe it’s worth the health benefits you’ll get in the long run. According to Chinese medicine, drinking hot water kick-starts the digestive system and aids in improving blood flow, which leads to reducing both indigestion and muscle cramps.
Did we miss anything? Why not comment below!