“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” wrote L.M.Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables. I agree with this sentiment! October is one of my favorite months. I love the color of autumn, the smell of decaying leaves, and the intrigue of the heavy morning mists rolling across the pasture.
As usual, October, 2020 brings us Halloween, but it also brings us two full moons. The second moon is known as a “Blue Moon.” Perhaps, you’ve heard the expression “Once in a blue moon”? My mother used to say this about something she wouldn’t usually consider. So I thought this week is the perfect time to talk about the Chinese tradition of mooncakes, eaten during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival is about lunar appreciation and moon watching. The full moon symbolizes prosperity and reunion for the family.
Mooncakes, round or square stuffed pastries measure 2 to 4 inches in diameter and represent the moon Goddess, Chang’e. The enveloping dough is tender and flaky. Inside is a sweet, or sweet and savory, dense filling of nuts and seeds, fruit, or ham and sugar. Different regions of China have different styles and flavors. Some are fashioned by hand, while others use a unique tool that creates intricate or themed designs. The closest I can describe this tool is like an English cookie press.
Coveted mooncakes are sold in China by street vendors, hotels, and of course, gift shops and supermarkets. The pastry is usually inexpensive; when wrapped in fancy gift boxes, cellophane, or red silk, the price increases. In the ’60s and ’70s, to afford mooncakes, there were layaway plans called “mooncake clubs.” The mooncake is a spiritual offering, a symbol of honor to gift a friend or family member with a mooncake to bestow love and best wishes. Family and friends enjoy a small wedge served with Chinese tea.
While most of the regional versions of mooncakes are the same, the Hong Kong version is quite different. They are called “ice skin mooncakes” and are not baked in an oven but instead stored in the refrigerator.


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