The following is the translation of part of the post
appeared on a Chinese online forum by Netizen 知名不具203:
When I was a young boy, I always thought Chinese
New Year was all about eating. My parents were both
hydraulic engineers and took all their meals in a canteen
managed by their work unit. So did we children. During Chinese
New Year festival, I loved to pay New Year call to
our neighbours with my little brother, mainly for the reason
that I could try all the homemade delicacies, from rice
cake, oyster pie, frying fish, to red-hot prawns. Even
so, we spent most of time during New Year holidays staying
at home enjoying each other’s companies. Except one year.
It was Chinese New Year 1976 [the year that rocked the nation
and changed the world to a certain degree].
I graduated from high school by the middle of 1975, and
like the millions of post high school kids, I was sent to
a young graduates farm (知青场) with 30 of my fellow graduates.
The farm was an abandoned orchard. Since we came, we rebuilt
the whole thing, and soon there were fruit trees on the hills,
fish in pools, cattle in stables and rice in barns. We were
led by two cadres who managed our study and daily lives,
and taught the farm work by two old peasants.
Half a year passed, Chinese New Year approached. The farm
slaughtered a pig, and each person got 1.5 kilos share of
pork meat. Apart from that, we were also handed out half
a kilo peanut cooking oil [by then cooking oil was a rationed
item] and pocketed 60 yuans of cash [about a month's salary
for a senior accountant or engineer in those years]. We were
all thrilled, looking forward to the holiday season when
we could visit our family.
Then one day, leader Old Chen called us to a meeting, and
gave a pre-holiday speech: “You guys are ready to go home,
that’s good. People say ’with or without money, you’ve got
to take New Year’s home-coming journey (有钱没钱回家过年)'. But on
the other hand, we need five people to stay behind and look
after the farm. Please put your name down if you could do
"To those who choose to stay, we’ll offer 25 cents
extra daily allowance on top of the standard workpoints.”
He took a pull at his cigarette and continued, “The offal
of the pig will all be left for them, plus all the food allocated
to our farm.”
The youth league secretary signed up, and he was followed
by three politically advanced members (先进分子) in our community.
Then, to the great surprise of almost everyone, it was me,
an underachiever (后进分子), who stood forward.
Why? Because I knew what was included in the allocated food
to the farm: 15 kilos of tail fish, 5 kilos of eggs, 1.5
kilos of beef, two jars of rice wine, two cartons of cigarettes
with the brand of Great Front Gate [大前门, the most prestigious
and popular brand of cigarettes in the 70s], and of course,
that pig offal. Had I returned home, there was no way I would
ever had a chance to enjoy a feast like this.
My application was granted to my great delight.
Next day, I asked my friend to bring the money and other
allocated goods to my parents, and began to indulge myself
in eating and drinking and smoking. It was then when I learned
cooking, an art of life to which I've never lost my enthusiasm.
(Source in Chinese: xinhuanet.com/forum)
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