Tết is the single biggest celebration of the year for the Viets. Similar to local culture here in Singapore, it is the time when those live faraway would go back home to visit their hometown, parents, siblings and relatives, the big Union.
Reunion dinner is an important event to us, the women in the family because that’s when we have to roll up our sleeves and cook, like a lot of cooking. For me, the Prima Donna who didn’t even washed my own clothes most of the time I was there (mama did it), that was the first test for commercial cooking (lol). I remember spending the whole few days to prepare the ingredients, and the whole actual day cooking for many visitors. That was the only time I had to cook for real back home. However, it was still nothing compared to the amount of cooking I did at Que, but once in a while, I did think about it for some good measures because once in a while some would ask where I picked up cooking. Like, three years ago, I had this kind of, you know, not eye opening experience, but eyes wide open in horror when starting this business.
Before the last big single event, the reunion dinner, we also had to prepare for many things, fruit display for the altar, flower display, spring cleaning, buy new clothes, make Bánh Chưng in time for the reunion dinner, prepare the many kgs of leeks and onions for pickling. The whole preparation and celebration easily spread out over more than a month.
Twenty years away, many things might have changed. But I remember the streets filled with flowers, fruits and Tet’s goodies. I remember the very distinct smell of Tet made of all these. The nights running around the narrow dusty moist streets choosing the perfect pots of flowers with my mom and sis after the crowd had left, or the perfect watermelon for display. It was something I would remember with very fond memories, especially since I left Vietnam.
Written by LG – 2021