Friday, September 23, 2011

Take Me to The Moon Baby! Mooncake Festival

I remember the first time I heard about the Mooncake Festival (technically the Mid-Autumn Festival). The Fisherman was telling me how it usually falls around his birthday, so his birthday tends to get combined with this holiday, much like my sister’s birthday being smack dab in between Christmas and New Years. 

This festival is pretty important, and we see signs of mooncake selling all over the place, like here in our local Fay Da.

I was most intrigued by the name, “Moon Cake.” It sounds really cool, doesn’t it? I had to wait almost a whole year to experience my first mooncake, and maybe that was for the best. Essentially a moon cake has a thin pastry skin and a really, really dense filling. It’s traditionally lotus seed paste, but there are some variations, such as pineapple, five kernel (5 types of nuts and seeds), jujube (dates), sweet bean. 

Most important, each cake contains one or more whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. More expensive ones contain more egg yolks. This box (with a really pretty tin, WANT!) comes from The Fisherman's brother.

Notice how the one on the lower left is cut into six pieces, for The Fisherman's mom and dad, brother and sister-in-law, The Fisherman and I. Sadly The Fisherman's nephew is still a little too little for mooncake.  While those pieces look small, this little bugger is SO rich you only need a bite (as in 800-1200 calories in a whole cake. Yeah, Paula Deen eat your heart out). 

This was the traditional one with lotus seed paste. For someone who never had these before, it was like a really rich peanut butter bite. My one piece was plenty for me!

Did I mention how crazy expensive these things are?? Between the egg yolk itself as well as the number of them per cake, the labor intensive nature of the cakes, and consumer demand, these can get pricey. They're given and shared among family members, clients, The Fisherman even gets a box from work. His are the variety pack, with pineapple, nuts, jujubee, and red bean.

The pineapple is my favorite, but it's still an intense bite of richness.

Now since this is a festival, of course there’s other things to eat besides mooncake. The Fisherman’s mom pulls out all the stops, and she is not shy about portions. This is why I think the Chinese-Italian affinity is so high, both like food, lots of it, and talking loudly (usually in Cantonese). I can get behind that!

Onto the food: The Fisherman makes her boiled chicken with DELICIOUS ginger scallion sauce (you could put it on a bald tire and I would eat it, you would too), fried fish, green beans, roasted pork (char siu), mushroomy thing that looked like jelly something, lobster, and HOLY HELL THOSE ARE HUGE mushrooms. Good thing we have an expert on the scene...

Say hi to the chicken...

Actually, that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the skin. Chicken skin is best crispy, whether fried, or roasted, to me that's what makes chicken skin awesome. I can accept everything else about this chicken except for it's skin. I'm sorry Fisherman, but that's where I stand. We'll have this debate until we're old and wrinkly (I hope!), but it just means he can have my skin. And when there's something with raisins or something he doesn't like, I'll be there for him too :)

And that's the story of carmel cod...I mean, Halloween. I mean, mooncakes. If any of my readers get that reference, they are AWESOME! Next, The Fisherman and I take our adventure up north, to the great wilderness that is Upstate New York, for friends, a wedding, and a fantastic supermarket that has yet to make it's way here, boo. Until next time, mangia!

No comments:

Post a Comment