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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Year of the Cat!

Happy Year of the Cat 1

Happy Year of the Cat to all my Vietnamese readers! And Happy Year of the Rabbit to the rest of you!

The last time it was the Year of the Cat, I had a Vietnamese co-worker who had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't understand what she was asking because it never occurred to me that she didn't know that the Vietnamese zodiac has a cat, as opposed to the Chinese zodiac, which has a rabbit.

So in case you didn't know, now you do.

Vietnamese are not Chinese! Even though I'm both. :P And it's not Chinese New Year, it's the Lunar New Year! :)

My parents were in town this past weekend for my oldest uncle's 49th day death anniversary. My mom brought homemade chicken feet, banh tet (Vietnamese new year's sticky rice cakes), pickled leeks, mochi with red bean filling, nem chua (Vietnamese sour pork sausage), and gio thu (Vietnamese headcheese). Mmm.

Someone asked me once where to buy banh chung and banh tet (Vietnamese new year's sticky rice cakes) in Little Saigon. I didn't have any recommendations then because I always get mine from my family, but my friend DP stopped by the other night with these banh chung from ABC Baguette in Westminster and they were really spectacular. So if you haven't bought any yet, I highly recommend them.

Happy Year of the Cat 2

My friend ordered a dozen, but they only had 11 banh chung and gave her one banh tet. She said she liked the banh tet better. And ya'll know that my family much prefers banh tet over banh chung.

I was so touched that my friend took time to bring me some banh chung when she has other stuff going on right now that are far more important. But it was a lovely reminder of why I cherish my long-time friends.

Because so far this morning? Year of the Cat is kicking me when I'm already down. :(


I hope it's far kinder to you, dear readers.

May this year be everything you hope it will be!

1 year ago today, Weekend Wokking #21 (chili peppers).
2 years ago today, beef udon stir-fry and pork chop rice at Dim Sum Express - Monterey Park.
3 years ago today, Banh Mi Hot Ga Op La (Vietnamese French Bread with Sunny-side Up Eggs).
4 years ago today, the golden crocus and primroses and Punxsutawney Phil says spring is coming.


  1. Happy new year! I'm particularly excited because it's my year! My family always said it was fitting I was born in this year because I have a small nose that bends slightly upwards at the bottom, kind of like a cat. I just always thought it was a cute story :)

  2. Happy New Year!

    I had to chuckle when I read your post---it's a pet peeve of mine when ppl say "Chinese New Year" :) Thanks for setting the record straight.

    Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year!
    Just want to say thanks for all the lovely recipes that you post. I know it must be a lot of effort but I really appreciate them. I now have some Vietnamese recipes added into my repertoire. Thanks again and wishing you always the best! :O)

  4. Chúc mừng năm mới!
    May the predictions about the Year of the Cat be true and we'll be able to breath and re-cooperate. I hope it just gets kinder and easier for you, WS. :)
    We miss you

  5. I didn't know that you guys have a cat instead of the rabbit. I like cats mroe but I'm stuck with the rabbit. :p

  6. Happy new year! You already know how I feel about cats :-) Hope the year improves for you, WC.

  7. Chi WC,
    i am only just reading this post now, thank goodness i texted you last night! i hope that the day improved for you sweet girl.

    i haven't yet gotten my banh tet, i am hopeful that i'll get that this weekend at the phamily festivities.

    good health & prosperity to you! i miss you!!!


  8. Happy Lunar New Year to you! May it be a year of health and prosperity!

    Going to hit up the Vietnamese market this weekend. Maybe they'll have some sticky rice cake and sour sausage in the deli. (Thais eat the same type of sour sausage.)

  9. Chuc Mung Nam Moi to you, WC. It's my year too and now I can get some discount coffee at McDonald :) I am the only "cat" in my family!

    By the way, do you have a recipe of dried "muc gung"? I would love to make it in the right way because I have made it but it took me five to six hours. I must have done something very wrong :(

    Thank you, and best wishes to you and your family on this new year.

  10. who actually eats banh chung? all my family eats banh tet

  11. Hi WC - Happy New Year! thanks for the info about the cat and rabbit. one of my friends brought me back these mini glass zodiac animals from vietnam. i never really scrutinized the animals before and sure enough, there was no rabbit, but a cat! :)

  12. Happy New Year! I'm a big fan of your blog, and I couldn't agree with you more about lunar new year: I try to de-Chinese it, even though I'm Chinese myself (but born in Vietnam). I was waiting for someone to declare year of the cat!

  13. Happy New Year! For years I couldn't understand why everyone was calling it the year of the Rabbit, since all my Asian acquaintances (who were Vietnamese) called it the year of the cat...

  14. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I totally didn't know about the Year of the Cat, man! Aw, why is the year not off to a good start? OK, it will starting... right.... NOW!

  15. I learnt something new, that the Vietnamese zodiac animal is different from the Chinese one. Happy Lunar New Year! and hope you are feeling better :)

  16. Chuc Mung Nam Moi WC. Wish you health and happiness so you can keep blogging. My best wishes.

  17. Chúc mừng năm mới! Maybe it will cheer you up to know a classful of little French kids practiced saying that, and ate dried, sweetened coconut, and listened to Vietnamese fairy tales and music, and colored their own little cats--and they loved it all!

    Health and happiness to you this year, dear WC...

  18. Happy New Year, WC! Thanks for clearing up the cat/rabbit duelin' zodiacs mystery. You're always my go-to for Viet culture, eats, explanations, myth-busting and great photos of beautiful food that I can't wait to get my mitts on.

  19. Phuong,
    It's my year too! Except, I think I'm more cat-like because I love cat naps. :)

    Culinary Chronicles,
    Haha. Yeah, I'm always pushing such things.

    La Takahashi,
    Thank you for trying so many of my recipes! And for providing me so much feedback too.

    My sister sent me a horoscope that sounded pretty good for this year so here's hoping it's true. Haha. I figured it was a typo.

    Yup. Haha. Right up your alley!

    You're a dog person, right? ;)

    Happy New Year!

    Your text message cheered me up immeasurably, but my day did end on a good note. I hope you got your banh tet! Can't wait to see you again!

    I have two of the Thai sour sausages in my freezer as we speak!

    Co Toan,
    It's my year too! :) I'll have to ask my mom how she makes her mut gung. She hasn't made it in a long while. Best wishes to you too!

    That's because we're Central. Northerners eat banh chung.

  20. CC,
    I have those same glass zodiac animals from Vietnam. :)

    Avocado Dispatches,
    Haha. Yup. Even though I am Chinese, I still get annoyed when people say Chinese New Year. I guess that'd be equivalent to the Italians having a monopoly on the Julian calendar? :P

    Aliette de Bodard,
    Haha. I love the reverse!

    It's OK, the day ended off much better than it started. Let's hope the rest of the year goes like that.

    Happy New Year to you too!

    Happy New Year to you too!

    That sounds great. It's nice to see such culture even in rural France.

    Aww. Thanks! I don't know about all that, but I do what I can.

  21. I'm Viet-American and I had no idea about the Cat / Rabbit discrepancy - growing up, I always thought whenever my parents said "Cat" they meant "Tiger," just like "Pig" meant the same thing as "Boar." Love your blog, by the way - I'm abroad and miss Viet food a lot!

  22. Ever since my parents moved from CA to the east coast, I really miss when my parents make banh chung during Tet. My best friend's mom always remembers to buy a banh tet for me and I truly appreciate it when I receive it! So I know how you feel! Happy new year!

  23. Karenology,
    But the tiger and cat are different years. Didn't you get confused?

    In college, my parents used to mail me a banh tet every year and I looked forward to those packages so much so I know how you feel.


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