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Lunar New Year 2024

Lunar New Year 2024: What It Means To Me + Mama Fang’s LNY Gift Bags Preview

At Mama Fang’s, we pride ourselves on bringing a taste of home to anyone who walks through our doors, especially during the holidays, which include the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year. The holiday starts on February 10, 2024, and ends on February 24, 2024, with the Lantern Festival. 

A quick note on why I chose to use both phrases, Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year, in this article:

I wrote “Chinese New Year” when I was speaking about my personal experiences. As a Chinese woman, I celebrate this holiday through the lens of my Chinese heritage. When mentioning this holiday outside my personal experiences, I wrote “Lunar New Year,” as countries such as Korea and Vietnam also celebrate this holiday. 

I’ve considered the Chinese New Year a combination of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the (Gregorian) New Year. It’s a holiday where my family and I honor our ancestors, eat lots of food, give gifts, and celebrate a new year with hopefully a good harvest or, in modern terms, good business. 

This Chinese New Year is especially significant to me. Last Chinese New Year, January 22, 2023, was the last time I saw my maternal grandmother before she passed. She played a pivotal role in who I have become. When I think about my passion for empowering people through sports and food, I think about her. It will be the first year we will pray to her instead of with her. 

In honor of her impact, Mama Fang’s pledged to give away 88 tickets to the Kansas State Women’s Basketball game on Lunar New Year. Coincidentally, Kansas State Athletics will host its 6th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day event before the game. Thank you to everyone who shared a special food or basketball memory on Mama Fang’s Instagram and Facebook! 

Mama Fang’s is also giving away Lunar New Year gift bags throughout the holiday weekend. Each item in these gift bags holds a special memory. We hope they will provide a sense of joy and happiness as they do for me. 

Indomie Mi Goreng

Indomie Mi Goreng is a best seller at Mama Fang’s. Mi goreng, or mie goreng, is an Indonesian street food dish believed to be influenced by the Chinese dish, chow mein. What makes mi goreng uniquely Indonesian is the usage of sweet soy sauce and sambal chili sauce. A package of Indomie Mi Goreng includes these two sauces and three other seasoning packets: crunchy fried onions, seasoning oil, and seasoning powder. The instant noodles are halal-certified, making them accessible for more people to enjoy. 

A pack of mi goreng fried noodles displayed against a red background with decorative asian motifs and hanging lantern illustrations, available at MamaFangs.com.

Indomie Mi Goreng is in our Lunar New Year gift bag because it reminds me of Grace, an Indonesian woman who worked for my parents when they owned the Chinese buffet next door, Bamboo Buffet. The buffet is under different ownership today, but Grace still works there. Her presence sparks comfort and joy for me. Grace is calm, welcoming, and supportive; she has been this way since I was a child. Now that I am older and hold the responsibilities of an adult, I am even more amazed by her consistency in approaching life with the attitude she does. 

Sina Ting Ting Jahe Ginger Candy

We have sold several different types of ginger chews throughout the 13 years of Mama Fang’s existence, but the only one that has stood the test of time is Sina Ting Ting Jahe Ginger Candy. Real ginger, cane sugar, and tapioca starch are its ingredients. The ginger invokes a warming effect, making it even more enjoyable during these winter months. 

A festive presentation of traditional Chinese rice dumplings (zongzi), wrapped in bamboo leaves, showcased on MamaFangs.com, against a red background with cultural decorations like lanterns and stylized patterns

Ginger is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. Not only does it add natural spice to your dish, but it also promotes digestion. My parents put ginger in everything because of its taste profile and health benefits. One of my favorite dishes they cook is braised pork belly. The braising liquid is thick. Sometimes, when I think I am biting down on succulent pork belly, it is ginger instead. Those childhood experiences made me despise ginger for some time, but with age comes wisdom. Ginger and I are good friends now, as I include it in broths, especially for hot pot. I reminisce about my parents’ warmth and delicious 红烧肉 when I see ginger now.

HongYuan Guava Candy

One of the best-selling candies at Mama Fang’s is HongYuan Guava Candy. I hypothesize that this hard candy has grown in popularity over the years because more and more Chinese-owned restaurants have given it out to customers like some restaurants do with mints. The taste of guava has been described as a cross between pears and strawberries, which I agree with, and I find that this candy reflects that.

A pack of want want senbei rice crackers presented against a festive red background with traditional Chinese decorative elements and lantern graphics, available at MamaFangs.com.

My dad loves guava. He loved it so much that he planted guava trees throughout his village in Fuzhou, Fujian, in his free time growing up. No one, to his knowledge, knew he had planted these trees. When I think about my dad sneakily planting guava trees, it reminds me that my dad was a kid, too. 

OldTown 3-in-1 White Coffee Mix

OldTown 3-in-1 White Coffee Mix is proudly made in Malaysia and is an instant version of the traditional Ipoh White Coffee. Malaysian white coffee originated from Ipoh, Perak. The “white” in this beverage’s name does not refer to its color but comes from the roasting technique of the coffee beans, which use only margarine. Eventually, sweetened condensed milk is mixed into the brewed coffee, similar to Vietnamese iced coffee. 

A vibrant red recipe blog composition featuring traditional Chinese decorative elements, with a red mug, packets of coffee-mate, and a few candy wrappers arranged artistically against the colorful background.

3-in-1 coffee mixes are a must-have in Mama Fang’s pantry. OldTown White Coffee is one of her favorites. Mama Fang almost always had it for breakfast when she worked at the shop. Because of my lactose intolerance, I usually drink black coffee, but I make and risk drinking a cup of 3-in-1 coffee whenever I miss her. 

Hawthorne Hamburg(er)

Chinese hawthorne, or hawthorn, is a tart fruit resembling a crab apple. Street vendors in China commonly sell the berries as a sugar-coated snack, especially during Chinese New Year. Similar to ginger, it can help with digestion and heart health.

My exposure to hawthorn growing up was through consuming haw flakes. Haw flakes are an iconic and nostalgic childhood snack for many Asians. So, when I saw a case of “hawthorn hamburg” arrive in a shipment years ago when my parents were operating it full-time, I was perplexed. First, I didn’t know that any other hawthorn snack existed. Second, I felt embarrassed and worried about people making fun of my parents for stocking an item that wasn’t actually a hamburger. Today, I find the name to be clever and unique. Similar to a hamburger, hawthorn hamburger has alternating layers. It’s a fun candy to eat and one I am proud to call Chinese. 

Want-Want Shelly Senbei

Want-Want Shelly Senbei is a staple in Asian households. It is a sweet and savory Japanese-style rice cracker with a beautiful story of intercultural collaboration. According to Want-Want’s website, Tsai Eng-Meng, the president of I Lan Foods, which later evolved into Want-Want, wrote 50 letters to the Japanese company Iwatsuka Confectionary to create “the ultimate Senbei snack” for the Taiwan market. The letters failed to convince Iwatsuka as there were concerns about his age, so 19-year-old Tsai, who inherited the business from his father, visited their office. Iwatsuka rejected him repeatedly until he impressed 65-year-old Keisaku Maki, the president of Iwatsuka, two years later. 

A festive red background adorned with traditional Asian patterns and lanterns frames a white bowl overflowing with wrapped green treats, possibly symbolizing prosperity and celebration for an occasion such as the lunar new year. Discover more

I originally wanted to share more about how comforting it was to see the Want-Want logo growing up. Instead, reading about the persistence of Mr. Tsai Eng-Meng, which I was unaware of until now, has made me think about my parents’ perseverance. Thank you, 妈咪 and 爸爸, for your work ethic and love for your children. I know you did your best, and I hope you know it, too.

About Fanny Fang

Fanny is a proud first-generation Fuzhounese-Kansan who aims to empower people through sports and food. When she is not at Mama Fang’s or several plates into hot pot, Fanny is studying basketball through play, observation, and conversation. 

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