This past week marked the Mid Autumn Festival. The festival is a time for family, friends, and lovers to reunite.
See, there was this hero in ancient times who shot down nine of the ten suns. Obviously in ancient in ancient times, there were nine too many suns. The local elder god gave a magic immortality potion to the hero as a token of his gratitude. After the hero did his heroic deeds, he became arrogant and tyrannical. He became so enamored with his heroism, that his wife stopped loving him and drank the potion to escape his asshole-ness- apparently she knew that the potion would cause her to fly up to the moon never to return to the earth (so far no one has been able to explain to me why the potion caused her to be sent to the moon). For the rest of his life, the hero looked up into the moon and wished he hadn’t been such a jerk as to make his wife stop loving him, he looked into the moon and wished for a reunion. And still to this day, when we look up into the moon we remember our loved ones who we cannot reunite with and reunite with the ones who we can.
We eat yue bing (moon cakes) which represent these reunions. Some are sweet, others savory, some spicy. The moon cakes are stuffed with a myriad of different things- these complex ingredient combinations represent the different people coming together in one cake. Well, in one family. Um, different people coming together under one roof. I could be peanuts and you could be sesame seeds, for example. Anyways. The bottom line is I’ve been eating a lot of moon cakes lately and here is a brief review:
Sweet Melon- Yummy and melony and very good all around. The melon was not too sweet, nor the filling too sticky or thick. One of the best.
Lotus Custard and Salty Egg- There’s something in this I just don’t like! I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the Lotus Custard. Who’s idea was it to put salty, gooey, egg goop inside of my delicious and refreshing lotus filled moon cake?! I hear they make whole cakes just filled with the salty egg!
Sausage and Salty Egg- I couldn’t even bring myself to try this one after my previous salty egg experience… plus, the filling looked like lint…
Icey “Sand”- bizarre name and the all-around, undisputed favorite. The shop where these little treasures originated actually sold out of these! The filling reminds one of wet sand, but the flavor is unidentifiable and delicious. A little like coffee, a little like French vanilla with hints of butterscotch. This one wins! 5 out of 5 gold stars! Scrumptious little mystery moon cake.
Orange Jam- we would call the ‘jam’ marmalade. Obviously this one made me smile.
Pepper and Sesame- This is one of the savory varieties of moon cake. The ‘pepper’ refers both to sweet green bell type peppers and to black pepper. Very good, salty and a little sneezy for obvious reasons…
Sweet Potato- this one sat squarely on the line between Sweet and Savory. I would have enjoyed a more powerful sweet potato flavor. I just don’t think the Chinese are ready for Sweet Potato Pie…
Chestnut- How can I describe this one?… very chestnutty? That’s really the only way. Most of the other cakes are filled with a combination of stuffing, this one is just Chestnut. Simple and very chestnutty.
Black Sesame- Also a winner in my book. I haven’t yet a seen “White Sesame”. Not too sweet, not too sticky.
Five Nut- Nutty. Pebbly. Seedy. Like birdseed in consistency. I gave mine away after one bite. I think the nuts were: Peanuts, Hazel Nuts, Walnuts, and Chestnuts.
Coconut- This had the potential to be awesome. But the texture was too similar to the previous flavor. I want my coconut to be smooth, not sandy. Good flavor though.
Fruit and Nuts- reminded me of a Christmas fruit cake. Good but very filling. Very filling.
Jujube- Another one I just don’t like. My palette just isn’t ready for the more exotic Chinese fruits yet.
Date- This is another winner. A little on the sticky side, but I guess date jam should be a little sticky. Smooth and sweet.
I wish I could mail these moon cakes to you! And if I find a way to mail them without moon cake destruction, these moon cakes are available year round!