An Italian Christmas Eve. A Mexican-American Christmas Day. A Chinese New Year. A Passover Seder. Four holidays, four very different tables and traditions. Join celebrity chef and culinary author Lidia Bastianich as she travels across America in a celebration of culture through food in the new PBS prime-time special, Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday Tables and Traditions, airing Tuesday, December 20, at 8pm on PBS (check local listings).
From San Antonio, Lidia heads to San Francisco to celebrate a colorful and plentiful Chinese New Year, the most important holiday of the year for Chinese Americans.
With the late Shirley Fong-Torres, renowned travel writer and chef, as her guide, Lidia visits Chinatown for tea and dim sum before returning to Fong-Torres’ kitchen to make Chinese dumplings, also known as pot stickers. “My granddaughters and I love to make pot stickers together,” Fong-Torres explains. “Dumplings are very significant in the New Year. It’s like enveloping the fillings, and enveloping love.”
The Chinese New Year symbolizes the beginning of a new season and a hope for a better year. Much of the symbolism has to do with prosperity and rebirth. “This is what America is all about…this great exchange of culture,” Lidia says. “The more I discover about new cultures, the more I notice how close they are to each other. They are all about the family, staying together, and being good to each other.”