Get ready for the Lunar New Year

Lucky Rice cookbook

The term 'fusion' when applied to the mashup of different cuisines has taken a bad rap in some circles. But Danielle Chang, author of the new cookbook Lucky Rice and the mastermind behind the LUCKYRICE festival, a multi-city celebration of Asian culture and cuisine, thinks that fusion shouldn't be a dirty word

While "fusion" has negative connotations to some cooks, Chang defends it: "I think Asian food is nothing if not fusion, because if you look at the landscape of Asian cuisine in America it reflects the various populations that have come together to create these new dishes." She uses one of the book's recipes, Kimchi tacos, to illustrate her point. Says Chang, "It's the product of Koreans and Hispanics living side-by-side in L.A.'s Koreatown after the L.A. riots, reclaiming that community, and in a way creating a brave new cuisine that is fused out of just living together over all these decades."

Eating foods with auspicious meanings isalso "a huge part of Asian culture," says Chang, and something she highlights in her book. Communal eating and lucky foods are particularly important during the Lunar New Year, which takes place in early February. Chang notes that it is common to have a dumpling making party that culminates in a midnight dumpling feast. Dumplings  are considered lucky foods because their shape resembles an early form of Chinese currency. Some people hide gold coins inside for extra luck.

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