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Ox Marks The Spot For The Year 4695

Rick Bonino Food Editor

OK, we’ll admit it: So far, our 1997 has been kind of a dud. But, fortunately, there’s another New Year right around the corner.

Friday marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, the year 4695, which is the Year of the Ox - one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac that take turns giving their names to new years. And instead of one evening’s revelry, the traditional Chinese celebration lasts two weeks and features parades, fireworks and, of course, feasts.

Which, by the way, we have the ox to thank for. According to Chinese legend, the ox once lived in heaven as a minor deity, until one day when Buddha sent him to tell the starving humans on earth that if they worked hard, they would receive sustenance every third day. However, the ox got confused and promised people three meals a day. An angry Buddha stripped the ox of his divinity and sent him back to help man produce enough food to fulfill that pledge.

People born during a year of the Ox tend to be hard-working, stable and trustworthy, although Adolf Hitler was one of them. The list also includes Jack Nicholson, Princess Diana, Napoleon, Richard Nixon, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin and Vincent van Gogh.

In honor of the New Year, the Lee Kum Kee company is offering a free sample of its stir-fry sauce and a recipe booklet. Send your name, along with four 32-cent postage stamps, to: Lee Kum Kee Chinese New Year Offer, 304 South Date Ave., Alhambra, CA 91803.

Cocoa Chanel?

The following Friday is Valentine’s Day, and a Cleveland inventor has come up with a new twist on the traditional gift of candy: chocolate perfume.

Michael Samonek says he got the idea when his wife whiffed a chocolate bar one day and mused, “Wouldn’t it be great to have chocolate perfume?” Before long, he’d come up with one that he says smells like a cross between brownies and a Hershey bar.

Samonek is selling the stuff for $12.95 (including shipping) for a 1/3-ounce bottle. To order, call (800) 618-5640.

Miracle whoop-de-do

Another annual February fixture is the Chef’s Culinary Classic dinner to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits pediatric care at Spokane area hospitals.

This year’s optional-black-tie event is Feb. 28 at the Manito Golf & Country Club, featuring a seven-course meal prepared by 15 local chefs with accompanying Washington wines. Dinner is preceded by a champagne social hour and silent auction.

Cost is $110 per person. For more information or reservations, call 455-4955.

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MEMO: We’re always looking for fresh food news. Write to: The Fresh Sheet, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Call 459-5446; fax 459-5098.<

We’re always looking for fresh food news. Write to: The Fresh Sheet, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Call 459-5446; fax 459-5098.<

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