Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yes, I know ... and look, mooncakes!

The post below was one I wrote a while ago, and have been sitting on ever since. Sorry!

In other news, Hungry Ghost Month is over - YAY - and the Mooncake Festival is here!

My favourite mooncakes are the ones with white skin made from glutinous rice flour, usually served cold, and stuffed with sweet red bean filling. Some mooncakes have a salted egg yolk in them - my sister likes these, I think because of the contrast between salty and sweet, but I gingerly pick out the yolk and eat around any remnants left behind.

There are many fascinating legends tied to the Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Lantern Festival - you can read about them here, on good old Wikipedia. They range from stories about Chang-Erh, the lady in the moon, and her pet rabbit, to (supposedly) true tales about how mooncakes were used in espionage during the Ming dynasty.

I remember playing with lanterns during this festival, as a little girl growing up in South East Asia. My cousins would usually stay over, making it more of a holiday, and we would light fireworks, watched by a couple of uncles who made sure we didn't lose any appendages. My first lantern was a dragon made of purple, red, yellow and green plastic, and when the candle inside him was lit, he was the most beautiful thing my six-year-old eyes had seen.

When I got a little older, I joined in the school lantern parade. The district schools had lantern parades every year, and we would follow gorgeously lit floats made by student committees. At the end of the parade the best float would win a trophy.

Those who weren't helping with the float would follow in its wake, carrying lit paper lanterns while people watched from the sidewalks.

This tradition was banned a few years later because certain people in the government thought school kids walking around at night in lantern parades led to vice and pregnancy and quite possibly civil unrest. I think there was a slight reprieve, and later on we were allowed to have the parade in the daytime, but it just wasn't the same. Sigh.


tfp said...

I loved the lanterns as a kid - I had a colourful fish one. Or was it my sister who had the fish, while I had a rabbit? Or was it a chicken? Hahahah.
I also am not a fan of the yolk in the mooncake. I love the sweet red bean filling too. Even lotus filling I don't mind. Just not the yolk in the middle! I haven't eaten mooncake for YEARS!

Juliness said...

Ooooh, those mooncakes look yummy. Much better than Hungry Ghost month's offerings!

an9ie said...

Tfp - I find the lotus a little sweet but you definitely wouldn't have to force me to eat it! I love seeing all the lanterns on sale in the shops in Brunei and Malaysia as the festival draws nearer - makes you wish you were a kid again!

Juliness - they are! I really should include more photos with these posts. Then I'd get to buy some mooncakes and eat them too :)