Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moon Cakes!

Last Thursday was Chinese Moon Festival. My husband is rather apathetic about Chinese holidays; I think they make him feel a little sad. He can't spend them surrounded by his parents and extended family as he used to growing up. And his kids are growing up in American culture with American holidays and he just doesn't see any point. Well pooh to that! I wanted to introduce the kids to this holiday as it's part of their Chinese heritage, so I decided to learn more about it.

I found out Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrates the harvest and family, and the harvest! People return to their villages or their hometowns and spend the day with their families, and they have a feast. It sounds kind of like Chinese Thanksgiving. And they eat mooncakes! They are pretty little pastries with lotus seed paste inside. No idea what lotus seed paste was like, but they sounded yummy. I'd never even seen a mooncake before. I ask my husband. He doesn't like mooncakes. Too sweet, he said. And expensive.

They are expensive, I discovered. We were shopping and I saw they had some for sale at the local Asian market. For around $30 for a box. Of four. Wow.

A few days before the festival day, I decided to get the mooncakes. I grabbed my hubby and the kids and marched them down to the Asian supermarket to buy them. I wanted my kids and I to try them. So we went into the store, mooncakes. They were sold out. Darn. My husband's Chinese friend told him, "Duh! They are always sold out if you wait till right before the moon festival." Kind of like pumpkins at Halloween, I guess.

So there went my Moon Festival plans. Oh well. There's always next year. So it's not a total bust, my son and I made some Chinese lanterns out of construction paper. It's an easy craft. Here's the instructions we used:

Chinese Lantern Tutorial

After we made and decorated our lanterns, I hung them over our dining table (taped them to the light fixture), and we went out to look at the moon, which on Moon Festival night is full, and it's supposed to be the brightest moon of the year. It was very bright, and we could see easily in the moonlight. When we went back in the house, Daddy arrived, with two mooncakes! His friend who had laughed at us gave him a couple for us to try!

Moon cakes

Aren't they beautiful? Wow, so pretty. No wonder they are so expensive. Inside each one is lotus seed paste filling, and in the center is a salted egg yolk, which looks like the moon when you cut the mooncake. My husband told me you are supposed to eat the mooncake by cutting it into four pieces and sharing, because it is so rich.

Lotus seed paste filling and an egg yolk in the center

I took a piece of mooncake and tasted it. The lotus seed paste tastes like sweetened peanut butter! Yummy. And the egg yolk is salty. The mooncake reminds me of a peanut butter cup, without the chocolate. It's very sweet and salty and rich. My oldest child hated the mooncake (but he is super picky and hates most foods) and my 2-year-old liked the lotus seed part but spit out the egg yolk. But I liked it! I'm going to buy a box of mooncakes every year from now on. And I'm going to be sure to buy them very early!

1 comment:

  1. We also celebrated the moon festival for the first time, and I fell in love with mooncakes - until I tasted them! They are gorgeous, though aren't the? I did enjoy the taste of the classic lotus paste one, though not a huge fan of the egg yolk - our girls picked the yolks out :) And boy were they filling - very easy to share.