Happy Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival! I know I have the last part of the Vegetarian Food Fair to post, but my timing is a bit off so my posts are going to end up overlapping a bit for today. I didn’t want the day to come and go without at least showing you all pictures of the mooncakes at my house 😀 I explained the Mid-Autumn and Moon Festival a little bit in the Food Calendar, but basically I’ve grown up understanding it as a festival to celebrate family, friends, togetherness, and of course, the symbolic importance of the moon in the spiritual context. My dad would tell me stories of his childhood living in Hong Kong, going to the parks and lighting lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (jong chow jeet), and running around with all his cousins. It’s funny, because when you’re little you go about your innocent, childhood years not really understanding the reasons why you celebrate a particular occasion, just that you do. All you know is that it’s a custom and after awhile certain aspects of the occasion become very familiar to you, almost natural even.
This was me growing up. I would celebrate all Chinese occasions with my family, aunts and uncles, and my grandparents but rarely would I question what we were celebrating and why we did the things we did. I have seen mooncakes come and go since I was a tot, my family and I would sit down to a dinner of bbq meat (siu lap, or lechon as it is otherwise referred to in English), and Chinese vegetarian (jai) complete with bean curd, seitan, and a host of other veggie goodies. It’s only been in the last maybe 5 years that I became very curious and started asking my parents questions about customs and origins and food, and paying much closer attention to what my grandparents would do during these occasions. I’ve learned a lot just by watching and listening and being more aware all-around.
Here’s a secret though: I don’t actually like mooncake. I KNOW. I’ve tried it and I can honestly say I would much rather eat a lotus paste steamed bun, but I know a loooot of people who thoroughly enjoy these so I’m just joining in on the fun by posting photos! My sweet hairdresser (who has been a family friend and my mum’s best friend for 14 years) gave these mooncakes to us (it’s customary to give and receive mooncakes as gifts; my grandma has given us mooncakes in the past) and she made a special order just for us as there are four different kinds! We have the white lotus with one egg yolk (meant to symbolize the moon), the white lotus with two yolks, a nut-filled mooncake, and a green tea mooncake. Even though I’m not a fan, I might take a tiny wedge of the green tea one but that’s about it!
I have stories from my grandma of her chastising my grandpa for gorging on these cakes many moons ago (no pun intended) and I know my dad has eaten some mooncakes in his time as well. Nobody in my house would ever down an entire mooncake on their own these days though (I can’t even say we’d eat a quarter of one) which is why my mother cut each mooncake into 8 pieces. We have 32 pieces of mooncake in our house. God help us.