What are all these mooncakes and pomelos? And why is Chinatown covered in lanterns? It’s the Mid-Autumn festival! (Or ‘lantern’ or ‘mooncake’ festival…) We had never heard about this Chinese celebration before we moved to Singapore, and have really looked forward to it this year.
Apart from admiring the fantastic lantern decorations around town, these are some strange new foods to try, and traditions to learn about. There are many fables and legends associated with this festival, including stories about rabbits on the moon, magical trees, and pills of immortality. It all sounds exciting – someone should create a ballet!
As for the food, ‘Mooncake Fairs’ pop up every year in all the big malls. There are many types to try, and you can eat free samples until you’ve got lotus paste overdose! Traditionally they have a big salty egg yolk in the middle of sweet lotus paste and surrounded by baked pastry, which is a bit of a taste shock. However there are LOTS of other modern flavoured mooncakes, and all the big hotels and restaurants try to outdo each other with new amazing flavours. There are snow skin varieties, which have a soft outer layer instead of pastry, and even ice-cream or chocolate filled ones. This year we picked out some from Singapore’s luxury tea store, TWG. They come in a beautiful box, and the flavours are unreal. (The purple snow skin is ‘Secret’ – lavender mousse infused with White Secret tea, with chocolate chips, and a center of chocolate and apricot. Yum!)
We also end up with a small pomelo collection, either as gifts or picked up at markets. These are BIG citrus fruits, but they are NOT grapefruits, or oranges, or giant limes – a pomelo is just a pomelo! This lovely plump fruit is compared to the giant Mid-Autumn full moon above. They have a grapefruit-ish taste, but are sweeter and milder. It is a very refreshing and clean tasting fruit – but quite a job to cut up with very thick skin and pith. We will see how we go with ours this year!
After experiencing thanksgiving time in America, it is fascinating to experience the Chinese harvest festival, and it makes us wonder why Australia has no equivalent ‘autumn celebration’ – perhaps we will do one ourselves some day! This is definitely a fun time to travel here, and we hope you will be interested to find out more… and maybe try a mooncake or pomelo some day!
Happy Mid-Autumn festival!
Links about LEGENDS and TRADITIONS!:
A great local blog review of the biggest MOONCAKE FAIR here in Singapore – you have to see more of what it is like! http://foodmakespeoplehappy.blogspot.sg/2012/08/takashimaya-mooncake-festival-2012.html