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Families everywhere are gearing up to celebrate the Chinese New Year... ANN EVANS finds out why food is so important in the festivities.

CHINESE chicken's feet are really rubbery - and that's precisely how many Chinese people like them.

In fact the skin of the chicken's feet is considered quite a delicacy, and as texture is very important in Chinese cuisine, they just love them.

For the less adventurous who prefer more meatier parts of the chicken to go with rice and noodles, this week is certainly the time to enjoy some Chinese cuisine.

Tuesday is Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse, and families everywhere will be gathering to celebrate the occasion with feasting and traditional customs.

City businessman Li Am Woon, whose parents were among the first Chinese families to settle in Coventry more than 40 years ago, is looking forward to a big family celebration.

Li Am, who owns the East West Oriental grocery shop in the City Arcade said: "Working the British hours, celebrations are kept to a couple of days.

"But in China celebrations could be spread over three weeks."

Chinese New Year is steeped in traditions to ensure good fortune and happiness.

Li Am said: "At New Year amongst the feasting will be a lucky meal where the food is symbolic of long life and wealth, so you would have green leafy vegetables to represent wealth, and long noodles to represent long life - but it's very important not to cut the noodles, or you would be cutting your life short, so you just have to slurp away at them."

On the eve of New Year Chinese families will sit down to deep fried dishes, followed by soup, then usually three 'meats' which are usually fish, duck and pork.

Close relatives and special guests might be offered New Year cakes or wheat flour dumplings. Another popular course is jiaozi which are dumplings boiled in water.

Jiaozi literally means 'sleep together and have sons' - an ancient good wish for a family.

Judging from the wide mix of nationalities who buy from him, Li Am believes there's an upward trend in oriental foods. …