Kung pao, wonton, foo yung, lo mein, moo goo gai pan...
and maybe the Chinese zodiac.
That's all many people know about China.
The police have sometimes said this arrondissement has the lowest crime rate in all of Paris, and evil-thinkers say that’s because the Chinese take care of their own business and settle their own affairs... which may be partially true. At any rate, as an ethnic group, the Chinese usually keep a low profile.
This not being a holiday in France, there were celebrations scheduled for the week-end. And not just in Chinatown, although that’s where the main parade meanders. There are other ones in the Marais, including in front of City Hall, and in Belleville, Edith Piaf’s home turf which has been attracting the overflow from Chinatown for a while now.
By the time the parade at the Hôtel de Ville starts, the thermometer is inching upward toward a royal 50°F (10°C), which Paris hasn’t seen in a while. And the sun is out, which also hasn’t happened in a while. So the Chinese would tell you the year’s off to an auspicious start. Which is a good thing, because the horoscope isn’t all sweetness and light for 2014.
Whatever comes down the pike, Chinese 2014 came in with a bang (of firecrackers) and was enjoyed by all, Orientals and Westerners, who have learned that Chinese New Year is nothing if not spectacular!
If you want to make a traditional Chinese New Year feast, let me pass on what I’ve been told by my various Oriental friends. You’ll need some sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf. And a gâteau du bonheur - a happy cake - because if you want the year to be sweet you have to eat sweet things on this first day. You’ll also need some lotus seeds so you'll have many children. And don’t forget a clementine for prosperity.
For a video of the parade, try the link below. I'm still not sure which of those masks is the wooden horse, and one wonders what they do for The Year of the Pig or the Sheep, although the Year of the Monkey should be fun!