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From Inner Mongolia to Upper Westchester

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Tiffany Buchholtz came to the U. S. 11 years ago on a full scholarship to the University of Toledo in Ohio, where she earned an MBA. She chose the anglicized name, Tiffany, because her Chinese name was “unpronounceable” for westerners. Her reference “was not the jewelry store. It was Greek mythology,” she explains.

Buchholtz is North Salem’s local authority of the Chinese New Year, which arrives on January 23. “We eat fish at New Year because the sound of the Chinese word, fish, is auspicious. If possible we eat carp because it is red, a sign of happiness and good luck. Also, we eat a special root vegetable,” she said, but could not recall the English translation. 

“We eat noodles for longevity,” she continued, “and a round-shaped dish, a sort of egg pie, which symbolizes ‘happy family.’ For dessert we eat eight-treasure rice pudding. Eight is a lucky number. It’s pronounced like a word meaning you will have a windfall.”

What is the Buchholtz family going to eat in honor of the New Year? “I plan to make something, but not everything. We usually have a big fish around five o’clock and after midnight you have dumplings. People make thousands of dumplings for their family. You don’t want to work for the first five days of the Chinese New Year because it means you will labor for the entire year. So people make a lot of food to see them through. I will definitely make dumplings.”

The upcoming year is the Year of the Dragon. “It is a very auspicious sign,” Buchholtz continued. “It represents royalty, among other things. A lot of people try to get pregnant in the Year of the Dragon.” Her own son, Maurice, was born on January 16, 2009, just at the end of the Year of the Rat. She described his birth date as “the tail of the mouse.” She herself was born in the Year of the Ox.

Buchholtz goes back to China to visit family and friends at least once a year. She is delighted to see economic prosperity coming to the country. “The Chinese people are very strong,” she says, “They focus on family and making things happen. They’re working hard to contribute to the development of their country.”

She misses her childhood friends and she misses real Chinese food. “Even though there are authentic restaurants here, it’s still not the same. The soil in China is different, so the food tastes different.”

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