Today is the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese holiday which lands on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. It is always a bright full moon. What does my family do for this holiday? My answer is usually “have dinner together”. My family actually celebrated last night. There was a bit of playing Mah Jong, and of course, there was dinner.
My mom spent a substantial amount of time preparing which includes grocery shopping in Chinatown the day before. She even started a lotus root soup that would cook for more than eight hours in order to get the flavors bursting. We also had roast duck, steamed chicken, taro root with Chinese bacon, and bitter melon with shrimp.
The holiday can also be casually referred to as Mooncake Day because this is when you eat mooncakes. These pastries come in cute tins that you can buy in Chinatown. Usually there are four in a box. The outside of a mooncake is a thin layer of crust and has an extremely dense sweet filling of bean or lotus seed paste. In the center is a round salted duck egg which is reminiscent of the full moon.
To tell the truth, I am not a big fan of mooncakes. It is a tradition, so I may have a small bite once a year. That is probably a good thing because my understanding is that one mooncake which is about four inches in diameter has about 1000 calories. To give you an idea of what a big deal the mooncake is, China is expected to produce 280,000 tons of mooncakes this year. Yikes!
Happy Mooncake Day to all and eat those mooncakes in moderation!