Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chinese New Year, Fat Tuesday and Lent

It's practically a holiday trifecta! Welcome to the Year of the Boar! Welcome back New Orleans for Mardi Gras! Carnivale is in full swing and it's Fat Tuesday! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and begins Lent for millions of Americans culminating in Easter, the biggest spring food holiday. In honor, we have a little holiday round of bits and pieces:

Gung Hei Faat Choi: Wishing you all luck and prosperity for the new year! While we don't get the full month of non-stop firecrackers here nor do we get a Chinese New Year's parade, I still feel the spirit of having lived in Chinatown's back yard for so long. In the Chinese tradition, the turn of the year is a chance to clear all kinds of clutter from your life along with cleaning your house, sweeping away any bad luck that might have accumulated. Having just spent the weekend with two of the must smart, downsized, uncluttered people I know, I've been inspired. While I may not get that kitchen purge completely done, I've finished another book purge (call it The Inquisition of The Library), and will do a closet purge later this week. You know those odd kitchen gadgets you never use? Get rid of them! Mismatched dishes? Silverware? Glasses? Let 'em go! Souvenir shot glasses? Wine festival logo glasses? Rusty pans? Chipped ramekins? Outta here. Your local Goodwill will take kitchen appliances and dishware off your hands if things are in usable shape. Me? I'm off to Half Price Books.

What Are You Giving Up for Lent? I grew up in a tradition that didn't really observe Lent, but I understand it and have many friends who observe. While I wouldn't recommend the all water and grape detox diet observed by a bartender I knew in San Francisco, I do think it's an interesting time to give up meat or even chocolate. (I think the idea is to give up something that will actually be a bit of a challenge.) The best I've seen this year so far? Scott and Lisa Hutcheson are giving up all liquids except for water, then totalinh up the money saved and donating it to Living Waters for the World to promote clean and safe water around the world. What a great idea! Scott writes more about it on his blog.

It's Fat Tuesday! Early reports are that aside from crime, Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been a relative success. I missed some local parties like the Jazz Kitchen's Carnivale, but plan to visit Yat's today in my own personal observation. It will likely include crawfish etouffe (or maybe the maque choux if they have it.)

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