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Nom Nom Nom Special Edition: Have you had your mooncake today?

Err… I mean yesterday, since that marked the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Now, during Mid-Autumn Festival, the Asian people like to eat what is called a “mooncake.” Not to be confused with a moonPIE, a mooncake is typically a round kind of pastry, measuring about an inch and a half in diameter and about an inch thick. The inside is usually filled with a paste made from mashed up lotus seeds and surrounding a yolk from some kind, I think probably from salted duck eggs. Whereas a moonpie is a totally different thing. A moonpie is a pastry which consists of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in chocolate or other flavors. (Alright, how’s that for learning something new for the day, hah!)

First, going back to the Mid-Autumn Festival, a brief background history: The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon Festival or Lantern Festival or further, Mooncake Festival, dates back to over 3,000 years to China’s Shang Dynasty. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which to Western people is around September or October in the Gregorian calendar, which was yesterday. And, coincidentally (or not), yesterday was also the “last official day of summer” which just means it is the beginning of the autumnal equinox. Anyways, Mid-Autumn Festival is a pretty important holiday for the Chinese people. Some of the traditions that are done on this day are as follows: eating mooncakes, of course, while sitting under and admiring the bright, full harvest moon together, carrying brightly lit paper lanterns, and burning incense, among other things.

A cut cross-section of a mooncake filled with lotus seed paste and egg yolk

But anyways, this post is about mooncakes so more about that now. The filling inside a mooncake can vary. It can contain lotus seed paste, which is considered to be “the original and most luxurious mooncake filling;” sweet bean paste, which can be of red beans, mung beans, or black beans; jujube paste, which is made from jujube-a kind of date (no, not the kind of date that Boyd “the single guy” goes out on; I’m talking about the fruit here); and something called “five kernel,” which just contains 5 types of nuts and seeds with syrup. The crust of a mooncake is relatively thin. The most common type of crust is a chewy one; but they can also come in as flaky or tender. The top of the mooncake crust is usually en-crusted (for lack of a better word, haha) with the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” and may sometimes include other symbols used as decoration as well. The taste of a mooncake is rather sweet. It is very rather rich in taste so that’s why people usually eat it piecemeal at a time, while having tea with it. But of course, if you feel ambitious about things, you can eat the entire thing but it’s also nicer to share with some of your friends and family as well. So, let’s take this moment and raise our mooncakes up high and give a toast: to the end of summer, to the beginning of autumn, to the Mid-Autumn Festival, and to the end of this week’s post finally… gan bei!

Posted in Total Randomness. Tagged with , .

  • jqhuynh

    Nice writeup Akwan. Very informational and another vote here for the 4 egg yolk!

  • asc

    in our tradition, ppl drink tea with mooncake, cos mooncake is kinda heavy, n tea helps digest, it goes vy well with mooncake.
    never tried moon pie…..
    i like the original …best with 4 egg yolks xDDD