of sun and mooncakes

Tomorrow is mid-autumn festival. And I am craving for mooncakes.

When I was in Harbin just a few days ago, LZ took me to the city’s most famous mooncake shop, Lao Dingfeng. The shop, one of many branches, was right in the Chinese baroque block which we were visiting. The shop was full of people hoarding boxes and boxes of mooncakes. I was introduced to the owner and he was kind enough to give me two boxes of mooncakes. But I wanted more to bring home to colleagues but there was no more time since the queue was long.

When we got to Volga Manor, a Russian-inspired village, where we stayed for two nights, they served mooncakes on the first night and I gorged myself on the lotus-flavored ones. Just like chocolates that I like plain and simple, I want my mooncake plain and simple too. I don’t like nuts or anything else in it. I’d be happy with just lotus or red or black bean (my favorites).

I asked RZ, who was seated next to me, whether it would be a sin if I take a third serving of the lotus mooncake. I loved it so much that when the staff announced on the second night that they were going to give each guest mooncakes, I was, well, over the moon. Unfortunately, I did not get lotus but some weird, though still tasty, flavor with nuts. So I have to scour Bangkok for some nice lotus ones. BBB said I should try the durian flavor, which is very famous here.

It’s very interesting to note one of the stories behind the mooncake festival about Hou Yi and his wife, Chang Er. When we toured Sun Island Wetland, also in Harbin, our guide Paul told the story of the 10 suns in Chinese myth and how Hou Yi shot the nine others so only one remained. Of course he didn’t shoot the moon since that was his wife.

The photo above from the Sun Island Wetland is the image of the sun in Chinese myth. It has wings and a bird. Paul also sang Coming to Sun Island for everyone.

The song is a classic called 太陽島 or Tai Yang Dao. Pardon the tackiness as is common in KTV videos.

Another story about the mooncake is how the rebel leaders during the Yuan dynasty used the mooncake to pass the message about a planned attack. On the night of the mooncake festival, the rebels successfully overthrew the government and established the Ming dynasty. Mooncakes are eaten today to celebrate this legend.

Back to my mooncake straight from the shop, BBB threatened that we’d end up eating them if we don’t get served lunch that day. Thankfully, we were brought to lunch soon after and my mooncakes survived.

But NB said mooncakes should be eaten in the proper atmosphere with good friends, sipping the best Chinese tea, in the courtyard while admiring the moon and reading poems. How very cultured.

中秋节快乐! Zhongqiu jie kuaile!

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