Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mooncakes Evolution

What comes into your mind when you think of "Zhong Qiu"? To me it is a merry making and sharing time for a year of good harvest. It is family reunion, it is a big round moon hanging in the sky with little clouds around it and it is feasting time.

Zhong Qiu is the Chinese word for Mid-Autumn. Once a upon a time, long long has something to do with revolution. To overthrow the wicked ruling party, people came together and planned a cope. To make sure it went unnoticed, they made rounded mooncakes and inserted message roll about the time, date and this made everyone ready to do so. It was successful and everyone rejoiced. The mooncake messenger became a delicacy for celebration.

There are many stories revolving around the Mid Autumn Festival. Other than the above, there is also a legend of a maiden flying to the moon after eating a special concocted pill which gave eternal life.

Mooncake had come a long way. It became a cake for celebration and gifts to each other to celebrate great harvest. Slowly this cake that was filled with white lotus paste changed. People started putting egg yolk to make it taste different. Subsequently from one yolk in a cake became double yolk in a cake. Families made these cakes as gifts and gradually it became a blooming business.

On this special mid Autumn night and it is the 15th day of the calender, families started setting out table and chairs, fill the tables with food and of course the prima dona of the night which cannot be missed is Maiden Mooncake. Slowly the food increased to having pameloes, small yam, cow horn nuts and we even have char mee hoon, curry chicken and anything palatable to fill our stomach.

As a kid I was very excited and cannot wait for night to fall. Other than food, I looked forward to seeing all my neighbor kids. They gradually showed up and each holding a beautifully lit lanterns of different sizes and in the shapes of animals. By looking at the lantern, it is also parents showed off as to how affordable they can be...I loved the gold fishes. However we were not so well to do so we have paper lanterns. It did not made me feel inferior because the happiness is too much for me to bother. However there were years when my parents can afford...I had gold fishes lanterns too.

The mooncakes had evolved. From the traditional baked cake, it now have snow skin too and also ice-cream mooncake for those who needs variety. The filling too evolved. From white lotus paste to plus one egg yolk, two egg yoke, nutty with fats and vegetarians for those 'grass' eaters. As human advances, the mooncake evolved further to fillings with white chocolate and brown chocolate for chocolate lovers; filling with durian, filling with hazel nuts, filling with bird nest and anything the bakers can think off to boost marketing and sales.

The mooncakes wrapping also changed with time. From a simple rice paper, it comes in paper boxes and now the paper boxes has to be 'designer' to show off the 'expansiveness' of the gift. I received a few this year with really nice packaging. Talking about loving the environment, the boxes used to pack the mooncake now can be recycled to be used as gift boxes and even jewelry boxes.

If you are a Chinese, and if you still have old folks at home, you will be reminded on this culture. If you don't remember, you will see stalls selling mooncakes and paper lanterns to remind you; and if you don't, your friend will share a piece of the mooncake with you.

Sharing love and joy with you for this Season. No matter you are home or you are far away from home, Home is where the heart is. Look at the moon, think of your love ones and wish them peace, joy, safety, happiness and abundance.

For me, I will cut a piece of mooncake, hold a cup of fragrance hot Chinese tea and look at the Moon. I will cheer my parents wherever they are, may they always be with the Triple Gems. I will cheer all sentient beings, may they be well, be safe, be happy and may they have an opportunity to hear the Dharma and be liberated from sufferings.

Happy Mid Autum Festival 2010 my friends!

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