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Event Review: Chinese New Year...s Feast of Plenty

Association of Taiwanese Students Provides Delicious Meal and Talented Performers

By Jillian Berry

ATS New Year’s Banquet

Brown Living Room

McCormick Hall

Feb. 25, 2006, 7-11 p.m.

On Saturday night, McCormick’s Brown Living Room was transformed into a festive banquet hall for the annual Chinese New Year’s feast of the Association of Taiwanese Students. With red paper lanterns, red tablecloths, and fortune cookies scattered throughout, we were fully prepared to welcome in the year of the Dog, even though we were a little late: Chinese New Year was Jan. 29.

The main attraction of the event was, of course, the food. Though the meal started about an hour late, since the final dishes took longer than expected to prepare, we were well rewarded for our patience with the more than 20 authentic Chinese entr es prepared from scratch by ATS members. Plus, they kept us busy during the wait with a code breaking puzzle, which was so complicated I could not even understand how the winner got the answer (“6.270”).

The sheer volume of food was astounding, and it was very entertaining to watch everyone trying to balance as much as possible on his plate. Nearly everything was delicious, but a few dishes really stood out. My favorite was probably the salmon: a whole fillet cooked with a simple topping that added the perfect crunch and saltiness to the flaky texture. In addition, the fried spring rolls combined a flavorful filling with the perfect crispy, golden brown wrapping. Another excellent dish was the honey chicken; the chicken and onions were sweet and moist in a flavorful and thick sauce. Finally, I must mention the outstanding rice cakes — crispy on the outside, sticky and chewy on the inside, with a subtle sweet taste throughout. They went well with many of the very hot and spicy meat dishes.

Dessert, however, could not live up to the main meal. Though there were fabulous almond cookies, which melted in your mouth and provided a sweet — but not overpowering — end to the meal, the other desserts were not worth sampling. In particular, the green tea ice cream was an odd blend of bitter cream — I know it’s not meant to be that sweet, but this literally made people cringe. In addition, the chocolate-covered strawberries were a disappointment. Usually a divine dessert, these just tasted of salt. Luckily, there was so much food that I did not really miss dessert, and I am not sure how much more anyone had room for had they been perfect.

Although the food was the main attraction, the ATS provided some traditional Chinese performances as well. Before dinner, Gloria Chao ’08 opened with an authentic Chinese dance that set the mood for the evening. After dinner, Angie Chiang ’09 played three pieces on the Chinese bamboo flute. Although the second song ended rather abruptly, the third piece, accompanied by Yi Huang on the piano, lulled everyone into a trance-like state of relaxation. Next, Andy Lin ’08 and Daniel Jeng woke up the crowd with Chinese yo-yo tricks. They dropped the yo-yos a few times and were not perfectly coordinated, but these mistakes did not detract from the exciting and crowd-pleasing routine. Finally, Serenus Hua ’07 left us in awe with his violin performance. He is one of the best violinists I have ever heard, and the power of his music permeated the room, providing a splendid end to a wonderful night.