Chinese New Yea / Lunar New Year is a time for celebration for most Chinese around the world. The specific customs and traditions differ slightly but it is a time for family and friends to gather, some even converging from around the world, for a few days of feasting. The Chinese are big on food. Yup. I admit it. I was born a foodie!
For the Aspie, sensory overload is inevitable during such occasions. How we manage our sensory idiosyncrasies will of course affect our enjoyment (or horror) of any busy social event, and since the Lunar New Year celebrations often last for more than a day or two, it is quite a challenge to stay sane.
The food always helps me. It really is beneficial for the Aspie to have a handle that they can use to hinge their self intervention strategies on. Mine is food. I immerse myself in the sensory pleasures of taste, smell and texture, and of course the visual element associated with feasting of any sort. In this way, I am better able to cope with the very idea of having to endure a whole group of noisy babbling humans in the same room, mostly talking at each other simultaneously. In my case, my brother-in-law hails from a different dialect group as my family’s, and they often chatter away in their Teochew (chaozhou) dialect, which I don’t understand, but at supersonic decibel levels. 🙂 Ear splitting for a hypersensitive Aspie, but the food always helps me maintain a measure of calm – I concentrate on the food and the experience of eating, and my brain works overtime to sieve out the extraneous sensurround-sound!
Over here in Singapore and Malaysia, the dish that often takes centrestage is the Yu Sang (yusheng). The raw fish salad. It is also my favourite! There is so much in this dish, a concrete kaleidoscope of textures and tastes! The eclectic bursts of flavours and the various different kinds of crunches (yes, crunches do differ, you know) and the fun of the blending, churning and re-assigning of senses of taste and smell, all help to distract my brain from the crazy melee of human interaction.
Lo hei! – is the moment where everyone helps to toss the salad, using chopsticks, and recite auspicious blessings and good wishes for the year ahead. I am balancing my chopsticks in my left hand, pretending to join in with the tossing, while busy taking photographs!
Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! Feast well and grow tubby! Tomorrow we shall diet! 😀