21 September 2010

Happy Moon Festival!

Happy Moon/Mid Autumn Festival to all my friends in Taiwan! And of course anywhere else that celebrates the Mid Autumn Festival. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hey wait, It's only the 21st, Autumn doesn't even start until the 23rd." Ah ha! That's what you think you silly people using the solar calendar. Pfft. The Mid Autumn Festival is celebrated in the middle of the 8th month of the Chinese, i.e. lunar calendar and usually falls in September.

When I lived in Taiwan, and you have no idea how much I've been dying to braek out a 'when I lived in Taiwan' story, I got to celebrate this festival with all my friends. Celebrations and activities were heldn in Liberty Square in Taipei and there were firecrackers (naturally), shadow puppet plays, music, and other such fun. And there were mooncakes.

I had a lot mooncakes. I think I may have lived on them for a week. We all got a cake at the National Taiwain Normal University's Chinese Culture and Language Center. I think that was my favorite. If I recall, the one I had was filled with red beans and walnuts. I also got a huge box of them from the family of a couple of my students. Some of those were good; I remember nuts and pineapples. Some were less good...green tea paste and an egg yolk. I don't like green tea and I don't like eggs. Except when they're in brownie or cake batter.

On top of these, there were the "free" mooncakes in the Da-An Forest park. A little background here...and I really only vaguely know these details so forgive me if they're not exactly correct. It seems that people were not quite so happy with the level of taxes they were paying so to mollify the people, the government started a lottery. A portion of taxes were set aside for this lottery (which was maybe monthly?) and you didn't have to buy tickets. Lottery numbers were autogenerated and printed on receipts. On ALL receipts. And lord help you if you tried to escape the store without your receipt because the cashier would run you down to give it to you. For a reason that I don't remember, there was an organization collecting receipts and in exchange for them you got moon cakes and milk tea. I think it was something like five receipts for each. A couple of my friends and I trooped down to the park with bags of receipts and just dumped them on the ladies with the food. The milk tea wasn't fabulous; I had definitely had better. But the mooncakes weren't too bad and, like I said, they kept me fed for a good week.

I remember having a heck of a time trying to describe to people what mooncakes were. So when Lauren found some here in DC and bought me one, I took some pictures.

Yummy! Mooncakes were always kind of like chocolates, you could never be quite sure what was inside. Or, for all I knew, they were fully marked and I just had no idea. My Mandarin reading skills were never very fabulous. So it was with a lot of anticipation that I slowly cut into this one, and discovered...

Egg yolks. Ah my old nemesis. This one seemed to have a dual filling, nuts/seeds and the egg yolks. The nuts/seeds part wasn't so bad but I totally avoided the egg yolks.

Anywho...Happy 中秋節!

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