Welcome to the world Baby Shananigans – Dermot Gao O'Neill

Those of you who have been following me on the blog or on Twitter will know that January brought more than its fair share of sadness to our family. We limped into February with relief, feeling rather battered and glad to welcome the change of season and the lengthening days. We had decided we were starting the new year over as the last moon of the lunar year waned and we prepared to say farewell to the year of the Dragon and get ready for the year of the Snake. We had every reason to look forward to the Chinese New Year. Baby Shananigans, the inspiration behind this blog, was due to arrive around 21st February.
Early this morning I walked through the quiet, chilly streets of  Dublin city centre, gazing at the perfect crescent of a waning moon hanging over South William St. sure in the knowledge that before the day was out, Baby Shananigans would have arrived in our lives.
And arrive he did. At 12 minutes after midnight on 5th February, Chinese Standard Time, Dermot Gao O’Neill entered the world – 10 fingers, 10 toes and 3.28 kg of pure joy. All of which makes me one very happy Nainai 🙂
Welcome to the world baby Dermot, our little dragon on the cusp and the beginning of our very own Sino-Irish, Gao-O’Neill dynasty.

Dermot Gao O’Neill just a few hours old

Just yesterday Shane, Shan and MaMa sent me a recipe for steamed sea bass, one of the traditional dishes they use to celebrate the Spring Festival for inclusion in the Taste of China celebrations in the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival.
Steamed Sea Bass

You will find the full recipe on www.cny.ie  from tomorrow (5th February) but, given the day that’s in it, I’m including Shane’s introduction to it here:
“I hope, wherever you are in the world, you are enjoying what is for many the start of a new year, but for so many others, is the end of an old one. The Year of the Dragon is drawing to a close, with the Year of Snake to follow.
When asked to prepare a recipe that is best suited to Spring Festival, dumplings were the first things that popped into all our heads. Chun Jie is a time for family and close friends, and dumplings symbolise keeping them close to your heart.
However, this is also a time for new beginnings and new hope for the future. As Shan and Mama have explained to me, it is very important, as you celebrate and prepare for the Dragon to make way for the Snake, to prepare and eat a whole fish. Why so, I asked.
The word fish, 魚 or ‘Yu’, shares the same pronunciation in Chinese as 余, meaning ‘more’ or ‘extra’. There is a saying “年年有魚” meaning “Every Year Have Fish”, which this sounds just like “年年有余”, “Every Year Have More”.

 As a result there is a common tradition in China – the serving fish to symbolise prosperity. This is especially true at the start of a new lunar year, where fish is prepared and shared to inspire wealth for the coming year. Just about any Chun Jie family dinner or banquet in China will serve fish around this time. The fish must be a whole one, served to share, rather than chopped pieces.
An important Chinese superstition worth adhering to – and one which many Irish families could relate to – is never to turn the fish over on the plate once it has been served. This notion takes its origins from and is especially important in coastal and island areas, where turning over the fish symbolises the overturning of a fishing boat. This superstition has, over time, spread inland. It is often followed by businessmen and drivers, where it could equally represent the flipped fortunes of your business or more literally your car.
Steamed sea bass is one of many ways in which fish is prepared and enjoyed in China, particularly in the South, and uses ingredients that should be quite easy to find fresh in Ireland.
We hope you enjoy it and wish you health and wealth for the coming year.
Shane, Shan & Mama”