Tale of a Cake

19 Oct

For as long as I can remember, my family and I would enjoy boxes upon boxes of mooncakes every year during the fall to celebrate the Autumn Moon Festival, which is officially on the date of August 15th of the Chinese calendar.  The Chinese calendar follows the phases of the moon, and the night of August 15th is said to have the brightest full moon of the year.  As with the story of Momotaro and all great myths, the myth to which this holiday is dedicated has taken on many versions, most of which are contradicting.  However, all of them involve a pill or elixir of immortality and tell the story of a woman who now lives on the moon with the power of immortality, a woman also referred to as the Moon Goddess of Immortality.  On August 15th, families gather together to eat mooncakes while admiring the moon at its fullest.

Today, there are many variations of mooncakes; however, the traditional moon cake contains lotus seed paste as well as an egg yolk, which closely resembles the full moon.  Some even have four egg yolks to represent the four phases of the moon.  Imprinted on the top of the mooncake crust are sometimes the Chinese characters for longevity and harmony, as they are important values for the Chinese family and characteristics which are greatly wished for.

After I left for college, my mother sends me mooncake whenever the Autumn Moon Festival comes around.  I like the new flavors that have been more recently invented, but my favorite is still the original lotus seed paste mooncake with egg yolk.

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