My brother got married last weekend and I wanted to share the wedding banquet menu with you since it was a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. Chinese food has special symbolism, mostly wishes of happiness, longevity, or fertility. There are also symbolisms of a dragon and phoenix in the wedding feast. Lobster symbolizes the male aspect of marriage and chicken is the phoenix, or the female aspect. The dragon and phoenix coexist as harmonious opposites. And yes, we had a 12-course meal.
Location: China Garden in Rosslyn, VA (http://www.chinagardenva.com/)
1. Roast Pork Cold Appetizer Platter
Roasted pork is a symbol of virginity.
2. Crispy Stuffed Crab Claws
3. Shark Fin Soup with Crab and Chicken Meat
The type of soup has some significance; shark’s fin soup indicates wealth and prosperity because this delicacy is very expensive.
4. Abalone with Braised Mushrooms
Abalone is a sign of wealth and good fortune.
5. Chinese Crispy Fried Chicken
Serving fried chicken would wish the couple to have a good life because in Chinese “red chicken” sounds like “good life.” Also, serving the dish whole, i.e. with the head and legs, would symbolize completeness.
6. Baked Double Lobsters with Ginger and Scallion
Lobster in Chinese is literally “dragon shrimp”. In a marriage, the dragon symbolizes male while the phoenix symbolizes female. Red is the color for happiness; so serving lobster would signify joy and celebration. Serving the dish whole also symbolized completeness.
7. Diced Beef with Emerald Greens
8. Crispy Flounder with Sautéed Vegetables
Serving fish wishes the couple a life together with abundance because “fish”" sounds like “plentiful” in Chinese.
9. Yin Yang Fried Rice
Yin and Yang is used to describe how seemingly opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. Many natural dualities (dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot) are viewed in Chinese thought as manifestations of yin and yang. Yin Yang Fried Rice is always served at the end of the wedding banquets, most probably symbolizes femininity and masculinity.
10. Sweet Chinese Pastry
11. Sweet Lily and Red Bean Soup
12. Wedding Cake
Serving dessert wishes the newlyweds a sweet life. The hot sweet red bean soup should contain lotus seeds and a bark-like vegetable to wish the newlyweds a hundred years of togetherness.
Guests are welcome to take leftovers home. Taking home the remaining food indicates appreciation of the groom and bride’s choice of food.