The UK’s Observer newspaper has paired Lunar New Year recipes with joss paper traditionally burned for the dead, sparking horror and bemusement among Asian readers.

The Guardian’s Sunday edition photographed festive Sichuanese, Cantonese and Taiwanese dishes juxtaposed with lai see, joss papers and ancient Chinese coins.

Photo: The Observer, screenshot.

“TOO stunned to see this,” tweeted journalist Vivienne Chow. “You DO NOT talk about death in the New Year!”

Also known as incense papers, joss papers and papier-mâché items are often burned at Asian funerals to meet the needs of those in the afterlife.

Another commenter tweeted that the pictures were cursed: “As in literally cursed. If you want to curse someone send this photo in a Chinese New Year greeting.”

Journalist Clarissa Wei tweeted: “[I]f I accidentally did this arrangement at home, my (albeit super Christian) mom would slap me.”

Tony Lin, also a journalist, said “the only equivalent scenario is if the photographer also stages a Thanksgiving dinner featuring a gravy bowl that’s actually a cremation urn.”

Some called the pictures “stupid and offensive” whilst others said that serving such a dish would wish death upon the diner. “Who died?” asked another commenter.

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