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Happy Moon Festival

3 October 2009 2,221 views One Comment

It’s my pleasure to introduce a new Tasty Touring guest blogger, Marc Matthews. Marc, a white Mormon who has lived in Taiwan and Beijing, recently moved to Austin with his new bride, Megan. They’ll hopefully share some experiences cooking at home and exploring the Austin Asian food scene.

The background below was what Marc sent around the office yesterday after sharing some traditional Moon Festival goodies for us to taste.

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Tomorrow is the “moon festival” in China. It dates back 3,000 years and is a celebration of the end of the summer harvest and is supposed to be the night that the moon is the biggest and brightest. Chinese people get together with their families, gaze at the moon, and eat moon cakes. In Taiwan, they BBQ outside, so if you have some burgers this weekend, take a peek at the moon and you can consider yourself cultured.

In the kitchen I brought in some moon cakes (the ones with lighter insides are coconut and the darker ones are lotus seed). A lot of Americans aren’t used to them, so I cut some up so you can at least taste-test. I also put out some Pomelo (also a must for the moon festival). It is like grapefruit, so only eat the flesh, not the rind. The brown treats are made out of brown sugar and sesame seeds and taste kind of like molasses. For Chinese New Year I’ll make dumplings or something a little more familiar

moon festival

As this a festival for friends and family, feel free to take a piece or two of my Chinese note paper to write a loved one.

There are a lot of variations, but the general story is that there were 10 suns that were scorching the earth, and Houyi the archer shot down all but one.  The Emperor of Immortals gave Houyi two pills for eternal life for him and his beautiful wife Chang’e. They were supposed to eat the pills together on New Year’s Day, but one of Houyi’s friends attacked Chang’e one day to get the pill. In desperation, Chang’e swallowed the pill to keep from dying. She started to float and fly away, but didn’t want to leave her husband, so she grabbed on to the moon to keep from flying all the way away. So it isn’t a man on the moon, it’s a woman. Houyi can only visit his wife during the moon festival.

You can buy mooncakes and other traditional goodies at MT Supermarket on North Lamar.

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