A New Beginning

It will be difficult to clean all the old year’s dust from the house (restaurant) before the new year, as is custom in some cultures. This weekend saw Oren’s kitchen destroyed by fire. The restaurant itself is completely intact, but covered in a black film of dust. Oren is closed till further notice, but we are improvising and opening a pop up restaurant at different locations during weekends.

For me, this means a new beginning. Where one road closes, another one opens. A reason to celebrate even. All the frills of Christmas make us almost forget that we are celebrating ‘a new light in darkness’. When I grew up in the Netherlands New Years Eve was as important as Christmas. Lots of fireworks to get rid of the old year’s dark spirits in the midwinter sky. In old times they believed the fat of fried foods would make the spirits’ swords slide off you. To this day Oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts for New Years Eve) are immensely popular.

The biggest New Years celebrations will be in February when the Chinese are welcoming the year of the Snake and in March when Nowruz is celebrated in Iran and other countries with Persian influences. Both have a lot of traditional foods connected to the new year:

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/chinesenewyear/a/symbolicnewyear.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2009/mar/17/nowruz-iranian-new-year-food-pictures#/?picture=344717819&index=1

In Pop Up Oren this week a Japanese menu, full of detoxing ingredients. Mochi – a glutinous rice cake – will feature on the menu. It is Japan’s most common New year’s food. Two round Mochi cakes (symbolising the coming and going year) are placed on top of each other, to form  Kagami Mochi, mirror cake.

mochi

Mochi is available in a good oriental supermarket. It is also eaten savoury, in stews. This video shows you how to make a classic Ozoni, new years stew. Dont be put off by the name of the ‘author’: cooking with dog.

menu:

Gingered Squash Sushi
Crunchy Nori Bundles wih Peanut Dressing
Ham Pancake
Salmon & Potato Miso Stew
Teriyaki Tofu
Braised Red Cabbage with Umeboshi
New Year Mochi Rice Cakes
Turnip pickle
Chestnut Dessert

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