Pho is featured in “Mango and Peppercorns” by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning and Lyn Nguyen.

The 2021 Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, started Feb. 12. While the government holiday only ran through the 17th, festivities will continue until Feb. 26, culminating with the Lantern Festival, an extravaganza of food, dance, colorful costumes and illuminated lanterns in the shapes of characters from traditional Chinese folklore.

The dates for the Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year because it’s based on a 12-year cycle – are represented by a different animal each year, beginning with the rat. The rat got to be No. 1, because it outwitted all the other animals – ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig – through various manipulations.

Oxtail Soup

Oxtail Soup is featured in “Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown” by Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho.

Mango cover

"Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream" by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning and Lyn Nguyen.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at or by writing to Focus, The Herald-Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.