ON MOONCAKES AND MID-AUTUMN
Mixed Nuts with Double Egg. That’s always been my favorite mooncake. I was never a stranger to this delicacy. My dad, a lawyer first and a gourmet second, loved receiving them as gifts from his clients, and early on, even as a child who raided his father’s loot, I gravitated towards the more decadent and, as I learned later, more expensive mooncakes. To this day, I’ve not been able to identify every component of that “mixed” variety. There are lotus seeds and almonds for sure, along with a couple of luscious salted egg yolks. Sometimes some “kundol”, or candied winter melon. But I’ve never really found out the sticky stuff that binds them all together. Well, maybe some things are best left to the imagination… but I do love the fact that these days, my favorite is available year-round. And yes, I do give in and buy one in Eng Bee Tin every couple of months, but nothing rivals the thrill of receiving that unmistakable bright red lacquered tin can in August or September, opening it carefully, hoping, that amidst the black mongo and red lotus, one of the mooncakes would have that “mixed nuts w/ double egg” sticker on its wrapper. Seeing those, I always felt like Charlie Bucket finding a Golden Ticket!
The Mid-Autumn Festival has its roots in Ancient China, when seers noticed the correlation between the waxing of the moon in relation to the main harvest season. What began as superstition is now cause for global jubilation. The fullest and brightest moon is reflected in the mooncake: a sign of prosperity, and in its roundness, a symbol togetherness as well. The completion of a circle; the reunions of families.
And when Chinese clans come together at this time of the year, it’s always an opulent occasion with great joy, great love, and yes, great amounts of great food. Welcome to our very first Chinese Food Special. We promise it’ll be as much fun as a Dice Game . . .