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Final rush to get Mooncakes!
It's holiday time here in China. Tomorrow (19th September 2013) the full moon will shine on the whole nation as families and friends gather around to take time off for a much needed holiday break (only 3 days though...but some people take more days off).
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, if you are going to visit someone's home (friends, family etc.), office (for corporate meetings, business visits etc.), or even if you are meeting a friend after a long time during the holiday then it is customary to take a gift box of mooncakes - to not take one would seem odd and even dis-respectful. However, exceptions can be made, of course, if you are a foreigner and if this is your first time in China.
Supermarkets were armed at dealing with the final rush to buy mooncakes as pictures show below.
It's mooncake time in China as the whole country is gearing up for the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls in the first week of October. Mooncakes are usually round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick, and come in variety of flavours (but mostly with one or two egg yolks from salted duck eggs. In accordance with Chinese National Holiday Policy, offices in Mainland China will be closed from Sept 19th (Thursday) to Sept 21st (Saturday), Sept 22nd (Sunday) will be treated as a normal working day.
Offices across Mainland China will also be closed from Oct 1st (Tuesday) to the Oct 7th (Monday) for the National Day’s Holiday, total 7 days, and will resume to work on Oct 8th (Tuesday). Sept 29th (Sunday) and Oct 12th (Saturday) will be treated as normal working days. That's probably a good time to avoid all parks, and major tourist attractions as 1.2 BILLION people go holiday together!
The ice-cream mooncakes from Haagen-Dazs are just ridiculously scrumptious - a must have!. It's just difficult to keep composure when you have delicious ice-cream melting all over your hands and mouth (!)
(note: mooncakes = multi-BILLION dollar industry in Greater China).
It's that time of the year when Chinese people give each other moon cakes as a gift.
Based on Chinese legend and cultural traditions, the Mid-Autumn Festival is to commemorate the selfless act of Chang’e, the wife of a merciless ruler. Many centuries ago, she drank the elixir of immortality to put an end to her husband’s evil intentions. The Mid-Autumn Festival is also fondly known as the Lantern or the Mooncake Festival. The festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, has no fixed date on the Western calendar, but the day always coincides with a full moon. This year the Mid-Autumn festival falls between the 27th September to the 2nd October. The Chinese have been celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival since the beginning of the early Tang dynasty (618 – 907). In times in memorial, people would make offerings of fruit, alcohol, and other foods to the moon god, to express gratitude for a bumper harvest. The festival is now associated more with bright red lanterns and the eating of moon cakes.
If you are in mainland China during the Mid-Autumn Festival, it will be impossible not to notice moon cakes being sold everywhere. If you own a business in China or in the Chinese diaspora, and you are not selling moon cakes then you are not in (period!). These delicious (yet heavy) cakes are usually round shaped and are believed to have originated from Yuan dynasty (1206-1368) revolutionaries, who are said to have used the pastries to pass secret messages between each other.
Usually moon cakes are infused with one or two embedded egg yolks (two are better), and lotus seed- these two ingredients alone make the moon cakes heavy and too many can give you a big belly!. During this period, the countries of China, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong serve up an exciting assortment of creative moon cakes in a variety of flavours during the Mid-Autumn Festival (there are even low-sugar options). Every brand in the Food and Beverage industry wants to be unique and take their share in the market by showcasing the best of these moon cakes. You can try the iced moon cakes, Starbucks moon cakes, and various flavoured moon cakes such as red bean paste, cheese, chocolate, pork, beef, sesame tofu, sweet potato, silky smooth milk tea, black truffle, mango, strawberry and caviar.
My favorite style is the Häagen-Dazs iced moon cake. Redicliously delicious ice cream melts all over your fingers and hands. It's so good that it's difficult to resist from licking ice-cream off your fingers and hands clean!
All across the country, people will be gathering for family meals and enjoying lantern displays and a festival atmosphere in the light of the full moon. Similar to the American Thanksgiving Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a festival to rejoice and spend time with loved ones. I am glad to witness the event here in mainland China.
It is true that the moon cake is a multi-billion industry, and it can be a very successful business IF you tap into the right taste and fend off your competitors. Oh, and meanwhile as I gobble down another moon cake, I am reminiscing on how lovely to see that the Chinese people thankfully have not lost their culture and tradition despite moon cakes being made by foreign companies such as KFC, McDonald’s, and others. Its just another food for thought. Or it is perhaps another case of ‘How do you eat yours?’…..enjoy!
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