Once a year, everyone returns back to their hometowns to celebrate the festival that is Chinese New Year. This is the time that you’ll find the roads of Penang jammed packed with cars bearing license plates from other states and houses decorated with everything red and bright. The reunion dinner is one of the key highlights of Chinese New Year’s eve. It’s one of the few times where everyone in my family gets to enjoy a meal together and this makes it all the more meaningful.

My dad loves having a good steamboat so this is a must for our family during the reunion dinner. For those unfamiliar with Chinese food, a steamboat is generally a pot of (usually chicken) stock cooked in an electric pot in the middle of the dining table surrounded with many plates of raw meats, seafood and vegetables. The idea is to take the items that you like and dump them into the pot so it cooks in the soup and when you eat it, it’s flavoured by the stock and as a result of all the assortment of food that gets cooked in the soup, it becomes a wonderfully sweet and tasty broth.

Although my nephew, Sean, didn’t get a chance to taste the food, nonetheless he was having fun playing in his bamboo chair. An interesting bit of trivia: the bamboo baby chair is more than 30 years old and according to my mum, both my brother and I used it too when we were babies!

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