It is Chinese New Year 2016. I am in the Yellow Mountains of China in Anhui Province. Chinese New Year is a time when millions of Chinese return to their home towns to be with family. It is a holiday for visiting friends and relatives and eating! I think it is most similar to Thanksgiving in the US.
We visited my wife’s grandparents 20 minutes outside of the village of Tao Hua Tan. They live in a small village with older homes that were probably built 30 or 40 years ago. They are in their seventies (The grandfather is 79).
They maintain a fairly large garden in the back courtyard that
supplies them many of the vegetables they eat. They raise chickens and the grandfather, I was told, fishes. The gardens were meticulously maintained. Plantings were layed out out in neat rows and they were well tended, as I did not see any weeds. There were also other ornamental plants. There was a small pond, the purpose of it was not clear to me. In the back corner was a small pen made mostly of bamboo that held the chickens. The chicken pen was also very clean and well maintained. It is clear that these people love their home and spend a lot of time tending to it, despite their age!
Dinner was ready! The dishes were layed out on a traditional round table that could seat 10 of the twenty people that were visiting. All of the food was prepared by the grandparents. In the center of the table was chicken soup made with one of the chickens they raise. You can’t eat food that is more fresh than this! I must say that they are very good cooks. The food was delicious! Yet another thing this couple takes pride in doing.
Of course, with the meal there was bai jiu. A strong white liquor that is always served at family gatherings. It is served in small glasses and it is customary to always ask someone at the table to drink with you. Never take a drink by yourself! While you eat you go around the table inviting people to drink until the bottles are all empty!
The grandparents are vibrant people who seem to stay very active and so they come across as being much younger than their age. They maintain a lovely home and are very gracious hosts. It was a truly enjoyable visit!