Elaine Corn contributes to Capital Public Radio. Her husband, David Soohoo, is a private chef at the Venice Island Duck Club, which dates back to Clark Gable’s time. I asked how they celebrate Chinese New Year:
“After fasting, the first thing we eat is jai. It’s vegetarian and was very popular at our former restaurant, Bamboo. It pays respect to animals because they are spared slaughter. It’s a stir-fry of dried bean curd, lily buds, dried mushrooms, ginkgo nuts and mung-bean noodles.
“Another thing you always find is tangerines with the leaves on. You stick lay see (red envelopes) of money among them and they make the house smell great.
“New Year’s cake (glutinous rice) is something almost everyone hates to eat, but it’s a tradition. It’s rubbery, and you’re supposed to cut it and share it. It’s a gift that many people give, but it makes a fruitcake look good.”