Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival

In view that today is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival, I thought I'd do a special post to commemorate the occasion.

This festival is a holiday in Taiwan, and is celebrated by the Chinese on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that on this day, the moon is at its fullest. In Taiwan, a common practice is for families to gather round and enjoy each other's company over a BBQ. So, it's no surprise that shops that serve BBQ are all fully booked today. And it's also not surprising to find everyone BBQ-ing outside their homes/shops.

Another common practice in Taiwan is gift-giving of mooncakes (amongst other things) during this period. We too participated in this, and I decided to buy some from Wang's Bakery - someone had given us these Taiwanese style mooncakes several years ago, and I remembered them being very good, so off I went .... and look at what I found when I got to the shop!!!!

It was only 9.30am (I was told the shop would open at 9.30am) and there were already a good 50 people in the queue!!!! And actually, I had gone there the day before where I was told the stock was completely sold out, and it would be at least a 2-hour wait before the next batch arrived!!! Amazing! I later found out that Wang's Bakery is one of the better known Taiwanese mooncake bakeries in Taipei, hence its popularity.

Here's a pic (fm their website) of what the Taiwanese style mooncakes look like...

I really like Taiwanese mooncakes cos of the unusual fillings - red bean paste with mochi and pinenuts/hazelnuts ... some also have yam and salted egg. And they aren't too sweet .... plus the different tastes and textures complement each other so well! Delish!

We also were given some Cantonese style mooncakes from The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong.

Beautifully elegant packaging ...

This is a traditional Cantonese style mooncake, with lotus paste and salted egg yolk ...

This was a custardy-salted egg yolk mooncake ... the first time I've ever tried this kind of mooncake ... interesting!

For those who are interested, mooncakes came about due to the legend of this lady Chang E who was married to an immortal. Story has it that Chang E took half of a pill (causing immortality) that allowed her to float up to the moon, where it is believed she still lives, together with a rabbit, who is supposedly helping her to pound the other half of the pill so that she can be reunited with her husband who lives on earth. So, to commemorate this event, mooncakes were made to worship the moon and the lady who lives on it.

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