Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

September 12th was the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday that must be celebrated by the eating of delicious mooncakes! I'm a fan of any reason to eat sweet pastries, so of course I had to pick up a box to enjoy with some tea.

They are filled with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolks - definitely has the sweet and savory mix going on that I love. It's a perfect companion to green tea; the richness of the mooncake flavors becomes mellowed and rounded out by the light grassy taste of the green tea.

Legend has it that messages were hidden inside mooncakes by Han Chinese rebels who wanted to overturn Mongolian rule in 14th century China.

Of course, one can't celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival without telling the story of Chang'e, the lady in the moon. She was married to an expert archer named Hou Yi, who shot down nine of the ten suns baking the world to a crisp. As a reward, he was granted a special pill that would confer immortality onto whoever swallowed it. As time passed, Hou Yi became a huge tyrant. So instead of letting him become immortal and ruling the land forever with his despotic ways, Chang'e secretly swallowed the magic pill herself. She flew to the moon with her favorite pet rabbit and there she lives now, watching over the world.   

I've loved this story ever since I was a kid, but always wondered why Hou Yi didn't take the pill right away? I suppose immortality is something one must choose very carefully...  


  1. This looks delicious, Dorothy. Thanks for sharing the story. Maybe he didn't swallow the pill because although he was a tyrant, in actuality his wife was way more clever and she outsmarted him!

  2. Oh, just saw your comment, Linda!

    Yes, she definitely outsmarted him. But he just had it sitting around for like, years! What an idiot. I think I just expect too much logic from my mythic narratives...