It’s that time of year again – Mid-Autumn Festival, but in my case, it’s an excuse to eat a lot of food especially mooncakes. For those unfamiliar with the Mid-Autumn Festival, it’s a traditional harvest festival celebrated annually by Chinese people around the world, similar to Thanksgiving in Western cultures.
The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth moon of the Chinese lunar calendar, which would make it Sunday, September 27th, 2015.
It’s a time to gather with families and have fun. I remember when we were kids, we would go to our friends house and light a bunch of paper lanterns up at the park. Everyone would try their best not to set their lantern on fire or accidentally drop it. There was an art to holding a wooden chopstick with a lantern dangling from it. Seemed very safe at the time, but it was awesome. Now, they have electronic lanterns available that play music but it’s really not as cool as the paper lanterns with real burning candles inside.
Like most Chinese celebrations, there’s always food. Whether it be a big feast with at least one animal from the ocean, land and sky. Each family does it a bit differently these days. You can go out for a meal or have a more intimate dinner at home.
There’s one treat that can’t be missed.
Mooncakes are made of ground lotus and bean paste and housing a precious salty egg yolk, these traditional sweets are enjoyed to commemorate the legend for which they are named.
During the 14th century, China was ruled by the Mongolian people. The people were not happy being subject to foreign rule and decided to rebel. Leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Embedded in each cake was a message outlining the attack. On the night of the Festival, the rebels successfully overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644).
You eat the mooncake in small wedges rather than the whole thing.
There are so many versions of it that it makes my head spin. I went to T&T Supermarket to find some and I was so overwhelmed which to pick. Instead of the lotus paste, some have red bean paste. You even have options to choose 0,1 or 2 yolks inside. There are others with mixed nuts inside. I even saw some that were low sugar options too. If you love durian, they also have durian mooncake too.
With so many choices, I always just stick with the lotus seed paste with one yolk. Classic.
Say what?! Frozen mooncakes?! Seriously, where were these when I was a kid? This year I was surprised that there were so many. I bought a box just for fun and they tasted pretty good. There are also some versions that have mochi and ice cream. Crazy good.
Along with those mooncakes, I am sure you will find your house somehow filled with lots of cookies and other sweets.
The Day After
Lets be real here, who doesn’t love a good sale on decorations and mooncakes? The next day, all the mooncakes go on sale and there are always a bunch of people who act like it’s Boxing Day…but for mooncakes.