Tra­di­tional moon­cakes in de­mand

Adults and chil­dren alike have re­cently been cel­e­brat­ing the Mid Au­tumn Fes­ti­val, and the event would not have been com­plete with­out tra­di­tional moon­cakes.

Outlook - - CONTENTS - By Haø Nguyeãn

Adults and chil­dren alike have re­cently been cel­e­brat­ing the Mid Au­tumn Fes­ti­val, and the event would not have been com­plete with­out tra­di­tional moon­cakes.

Mid Au­tumn night fes­ti­val is one of the big­gest events in the coun­try, and fell on Septem­ber 8 this year. Street cor­ners in Haø Noäi that were packed with moon­cake stalls are now empty, but images of the fes­ti­val are still in my mind when I talk with friends about how Baûo Phöông, one of the cap­i­tal’s most fa­mous tra­di­tional moon­cake shops, has pre­served its hun­dredyear tra­di­tion of mak­ing this spe­cial­ity for the oc­ca­sion.

At Baûo Phöông on Taây Hoà Dis­trict's Thuî Khueâ Street, owner Nguyeãn Baûo, 56, fol­lows the recipe passed down by his great-great grand­fa­ther.

"We aim to pre­serve the character of Haø Noäi and our fore­fa­thers by of­fer­ing cus­tomers a pure flavour that's not too cloy­ingly sweet," he said.

By stick­ing to tra­di­tion, Baûo Phöông has re­mained popular. Even at 7pm, when I ar­rived, a queue stretched in front of the shop. Löông Thò Huaán from Ñoáng Ña Dis­trict told me that she had been wait­ing in line since 5:30pm.

"The cakes have no preser­va­tives and the tra­di­tional aroma brings back mem­o­ries of past Mid Au­tumn fes­ti­vals.

That's why I line up to buy the cakes. All my fam­ily mem­bers love them," Huaán said.

Stand­ing next to her, Tröông Thuyù Haø from Hai Baø Tröng Dis­trict said she liked watch­ing the process of mak­ing the cakes from be­gin­ning to end, start­ing when the gluti­nous rice pow­der was mixed with syrup and end­ing when the cakes slid in to be baked.

"The best mo­ment is when they col­lect the hot cakes from the oven. I can barely con­trol my ap­petite be­cause it smells so good," Haø said.

She re­called a rainy day last year, when she bi­cy­cled to the shop to buy moon­cakes for her par­ents and par­ents-in-law. It was only 5am, but the queue was al­ready long.

"I wanted five boxes but the shop seller was de­ter­mined not to sell them to me, say­ing each cus­tomer was only al­lowed to buy two. I thought that it was as if we were back in the sub­sidy era of nearly 30 years ago. I tried to im­plore the seller, but he got angry and said that if I did not leave the line to give some­one else a turn he would call a se­cu­rity man to pull me out.

"I was angry and dis­ap­pointed, but think­ing of how happy my par­ents would be to get the cakes and ded­i­cate them to our an­ces­tors, I got in line for a sec­ond time," Haø said.

This year, she planned ahead, ask­ing her two nieces to line up with her so they could buy six boxes.

El­derly shop­per Nguyeãn Thò Maõo from Caàu Gi­aáy Ward said her hus­band told her that he only liked moon­cakes from this store.

"It was very hot dur­ing the day so I came here late, hop­ing that the shop would not be so crowded, but I was wrong. How­ever, I will wait be­cause my hus­band said he would not eat the cakes made by other shops," said Maõo.

Cus­tomers queue in a long line to buy boxes of moon­cakes from­tra­di­tional shop Baûo Phöông.

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