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Moon cake season, and a full moon tomorrow

I love being able to upload a photo from my phone, but what a shame I haven’t yet learned to get a title in! Webb Shaw got in a question even before I got here to tidy up, changing “Multimedia message” to the title above. “What’s a mooncake?,” he asks, and mentions that seasonal cakes where he lives in Wisconsin are yellow and green to match the colors of the Green Bay Packers.

This is the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, one of the major celebrations of the year. Untold millions of mooncakes are sold during these weeks, far more, a friend speculates, than could possibly be eaten. A mooncake typically contains a sweet red bean paste, very dense, and looking rather like the bottom layer in a jar of “natural” peanut butter, where the oil has risen to the surface. Many contain salted cooked egg yolks, bright yellow contrast and a pleasant contrast in flavor–though, admittedly, a mooncake is a quite a challenge to the Western palate, not quite like anything we eat. The outside pastry is fairly soft and faintly sweet. Eaten in small slices with a cup of tea, they’re a pleasant afternoon snack. The mooncake you see here, given to me this weekend by a friend who was given it by someone who’d just arrived from Beijing, is different: it contains pale sweet shreds of something, perhaps melon, with the salted egg.

Liz Steffey, Guanxi associate editor, says that at first she would eat a whole cake at a sitting, not realizing that they weren’t like cupcakes. And when a friend was teaching in Taiwan he says that every one of his 200 students brought him a mooncake. We’ve been dreaming up ideas for the mountains of mooncakes that must remain uneaten every year. Could they be used somehow to reduce climate change?

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by KarenChristensen.

One thought on “Moon cake season, and a full moon tomorrow

  1. What’s a moon cake? Here in Wisconsin, traditional seasonal fare has appeared, as well – cupcakes, cakes and cookies with green and/or yellow frosting for snacking while watching the Packers on TV.

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