The Year of the Tiger is not considered auspicious for marriage, so in the last days of the Year of the Ox there was a rush of weddings. Lily and Wan Li held their wedding banquet in Guangzhou on 31st January - a magnificent event with a 13 course meal. The dishes are almost always the same and there are hidden, lucky meanings in most of them.
Here is the menu:
• "Golden roast suckling pig": the suckling pig symbolises virginity
• "A new nest" — a nest of crispy noodles filled with chicken, lily roots, cashew nuts and celery
• "Prawns strongly swimming in the water": prawns
• "Jade green mandarin ducks" abalone with broccoli: Mandarin ducks are the symbol of wedded bliss as they mate for life, and abalone is homophonous with preserving an abundance
• "Sea cucumber and pigs tendons": Sea cucumber symbolises harmony (sounds like "good heart")
• "American ginseng flavoured roast pigeon" - the tender meat of the pigeon symbolises peace
• "Steamed mandarin fish": fish symbolises abundance as it is homophonous with a word for "plentiful"
• "Accepting the red" chicken broth: the serving of the chicken broth marks the point where the bride changes into traditional red dress and the couple go round the tables to toast their guests and be toasted in turn
• "Floral and bamboo mushrooms pressing bokchoi": bokchoi, 'baitsai' in mandarin, is homophonous with the words for "one hundred" and "wealth", and the word 'ba' meaning pressing is homophonous with "wealth"
• "Double joy braised noodles ": noodles symbolise longevity, the longer the noodles, the better
• "Eternal harmony fried rice"
• "Cake and sweetmeats": the cake should be decorated with a dragon and a phoenix
• "Sweet Red Bean Soup and Lotus Seeds": red is the auspicious colour for weddings, the combination of lotus seeds and a bark-like vegetable makes for 100 year union.