As economy slows, Taiwan tucks in for Lunar New Year

Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:15am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - There was something for everyone in Taiwan as the island stocked up on festive foods for its most sacred annual holiday, the Chinese Lunar New Year, spending as usual despite an economic downturn.

With the Year of the Ox due to start on Monday, families bought rice cake balls coated in nuts or sesame seeds to eat at home after praying.

They packed bags with candy, including chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, a symbol of luck, and milk-and-peanut nougats to offer to holiday visitors.

For VIP guests and family, there are dried, processed snakehead fish slices that sell for the relatively high holiday food price of T$400 ($11.90) a piece.

"Sales aren't bad this year," said fish seller Wang You-fu, bragging about a good haul due to cold weather. "For these fish, the colder the better."

Children, off school and at home watching TV, will demand gummy, spicy red and orange fish-flavored chips.

And to celebrate unity, entire families bought the fixings for seafood hot pots, which they might top off with radish-flavored sticky rice cake, with the "sticky" in Mandarin rhyming with "year."

Thousands crammed into public markets in Taipei on Friday to buy these specialty holiday foods, most of which are eaten on Lunar New Year because of their seasonality, ahead of the week-long traditional holiday.   Continued...

<p>A woman poses with a plate of rice cake balls at the Dihua Chinese Lunar New Year street market in Taipei January 23, 2009. REUTERS/Nicky Loh</p>