Best Meal of my Life … Death by Duck

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Siverback Family Favorite Feasts or … Death By Duck by SB Mimi (Post Island SBs)

Although my husband Sal and I have no Chinese ancestry, we developed a beloved tradition of creating a New Year’s Day feast of Peking Duck served in a delicious banquet with all the fixings. This menu may not be known to everyone, but it was a huge hit with us and our kids fully expected it every year. It consists of a specially crispy style roast duck, skin on a platter, meat in tasty strips, mandarin pancakes to wrap the duck in, and scallion brushes to lovingly coat the pancakes with a sweet sauce.

Why Peking duck you might ask? Well, back in 1982 I had an amazing opportunity to travel with a small group to China, only recently opened to tourism after being a closed society for many years. I had always been enthralled with Chinese history, art and culture and when a close friend visited her brother there, I jumped at the chance for the thrilling adventure.

In the same year, Boston was becoming a sister city with Souzhou China, and Mayor Kevin White was bringing an entourage to visit. The Boston Public Library put on a wonderful series of lectures with all the brilliant local experts of the day.

One day, just weeks before the trip, the Boston Globe featured a startling headline – Death By Duck –Man Dies outside restaurant in Beijing! This was my first introduction to what would become our family traditional banquet! It seemed that exhausted middle-aged tourists would culminate their trip to China by visiting an all-you-could-eat Duck restaurant. There was all the Maotai you could drink as well, and it was fuel for a potent combination, dangerous to a certain few.

Although I didn’t expect it, our tour group was also taken for this traditional banquet and I lived to tell the tale back home! My husband was very taken with the menu, and we gradually made more yummy Chinese treats, including deep fried raviolis, which our kids loved to help us to shape into half moons. We enjoyed this fun feast for many years, serving it on traditional platters and adding new side dishes as our tastes changed and our repertoire expanded

The naked duck dangled from a cord in the basement every New Year’s Eve, drying it’s skin for crispy cooking, for many years at the Balsamo Household, and we share fond memories of those days together whenever the holidays roll around.

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