This Cookie Tray Is a Modern Take on What My Mom Used for Lunar New Year — But It’s Just as Auspicious
Lunar New Year is rolling around again — this time on Sunday, January 22, 2023. Excitedly celebrated by billions of folks around the world, Lunar New Year (also called Spring Festival) is a great time to catch up with family and friends (or for those who live in Asia, even take a week or two off work). But if I’m being really, really honest, Lunar New Year is all about the food.
Like many festivals around the world, one of the best activities during Lunar New Year is eating. And not just any type of food, either, but certain foods thought to bring you good luck, good fortune, and lots of wealth for the year to come. It’s a lovely tradition I followed as a child and still follow now as an adult.
Traditionally, foods like dumplings are eaten for good wealth, round foods like meatballs and oranges are served to bring fulfillment to the household, and noodles are consumed for longevity to all those who slurp their way to a great year ahead.
While the main eating is done on Lunar New Year’s eve during a big feast with family and friends and lots of auspicious dishes, many other little bites mark the special 15-day celebration. I remember so many sweets being in our kitchen a few days before the festival — and much like the savory staples (dumplings, fish, and hot pot), these sweet snacks also brought good luck and fortune. The variety was huge, and my mom and my friends’ moms would lay out a spread of their cookies and snacks in the dining room as we chatted over afternoon tea, discussing what dishes we were preparing for Lunar New Year’s eve.
Most families have a simple snack tray — a plastic round container with eight compartments (eight being a lucky number) — and I have memories of visiting all my friend’s houses just to check what snacks they had. However, as great as traditions are, I’m recreating my own snack and cookie tray this year with my new favorite kitchen item: the Alessi “Fatman”, a cookie tray meets dessert tray hybrid.
Much like Christmas and holiday cookies, there is a huge selection of Lunar New Year sweets: pineapple tartlets, sesame snap cookies, buttery shortbread shaped like old Chinese currency, and the affectionately named “love letter cookies,” which are essentially thin crepe-like cookies. Somehow, all of these look so much better when presented on the Alessi stand. Even though the hybrid isn’t truly Chinese (it’s made by an Italian company), it has the hallmarks of an auspicious Lunar New Year item, like the round shape, which is a very lucky symbol and symbolizes unity.
The Alessi stand is also compact; when it’s not in use, it folds up back into its beautifully chic silhouette and hides in the corner on my kitchen bench for times when I have no guests around. Opening the tray is just as easy, too — you just twist the head and pull down two round trays before unlocking another flap to rotate the third upper tray down.
Although it’s slim when not open, once you pull down all the trays, you have three large surfaces to set cakes, snacks, cookies, and anything else you’d want. I’ve even put out a tiny little bowl for dips and the tray was strong enough to handle without flipping up or over — you definitely don’t want a mess during the Lunar New Year celebrations, that would be bad luck!
And speaking of messes, I really appreciate the ability to clean the stainless steel tray by simply wiping it with a clean dishcloth. When I used it during Christmas, any remnants of sticky desserts like my mini date puddings were easily cleaned up with a damp dishcloth.
Although I admit this tray stems away from the traditional three-tiered lacquer box my mom used to serve her snacks on, I love the contemporary and modern look and feel. Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快樂!
Buy: Alessi “Fatman” Folding Cake Stand, $299