I've had just enough time to... enjoy my moon cake and look at the moon
Taken in the Shanghai Bakery Exhibition
There are several distinctly different types of moon cakes but the most recognized is the Guang style with its thin smooth pastry-like skin and rich lotus bean paste. A yolk or two of the duck egg is usually added. This cake is only served once a year and available during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Thus, it becomes a very popular tradition to give a box of moon cakes to relatives and business clients during this period. It is a multi-billion dollars business in China and many bakeries made their entire year’s profit during this single month.
The humble moon cake has been associated with the overthrow of the Mongol of the Yuan Dynasty. To spread the words of a unified revolt, a secret message was put into the moon cakes that were distributed to the oppressed Han people. It said “Drive out the Mongols on the 15th of 8th lunar month!”. On that day, the populace answered the call and overthrow the Mongols and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368.
Another famous legend associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival is the story of the Ten Suns and the Lady of the Moon. You can listen to one version of the story in the You-Tube below. For me, the Mid-Autumn festival will always be about carrying lanterns and walking through the dark street together with friends when we were boys. We were too poor to buy the colourful paper lanterns so we made our own with milk cans that has cut-out patterns, stringed together with wires attached to a bamboo stick. We burned a candle inside the can and viola!, we have our tin can lantern. They are crude but indestructible! We will then create a ruckus by banging upon anything creating an unbearable din to drive away the dog that was trying to consume the moon. Sadly, this boisterous tradition is no longer practised by today’s kids. Not many even know about it. I think I will reach for my cup of Chinese tea and the slice of moon cake now…
The Legend of the Lady in the Moon - Chang Er