Mandarin oranges have long been a symbol of good luck. For this purpose, oranges are typically exchanged during Chinese New Year at house visits. Walking around Chinatown in NYC during Chinese New Year, the exuberance of the lion dance remind me of the gatherings we had back in Singapore: lo hei (tossing of yusheng) for prosperity and good luck, sweating as we consume copious helpings of hotpot in 30C / 86F heat and then battling the food coma with poker using our ang bao (red packets) money.
My first orange of late, however, came in the form of a good luck charm for my culinary school finals. It was a cold wintry morning on the M9, and all I had in my mind was the ambitious chicken dish I was to cook within 2 hours: butcher, brine, make egg noodles, make curry paste from scratch, garnish, plate. My thoughts were suddenly distracted by David, a regular commuter on the bus. “Here is a satsuma orange for your final exam”. Thanking him, I pondered hard. Was it rude to tell him I was zoned in and I can’t talk right now? Taking the satsuma orange as somewhat of an omen, I continued the conversation. We talked about my dish, and what happens after culinary school. I walked into the exam, relaxed and ready to go. Looking back, I realised I had it all in me and the bus revision was not necessary / probably anxiety inducing. I needed the satsuma distraction. And it worked.