A Mid-Autumn's Tale
Autumn Flowers (we may not have real autumn leaves in Singapore, but we sure know how to create our own autumn neon colors)!
Patterns abound in all colors, even at the bases of towering structures... (couldn't resist posting this shot as I particularly liked the intricate flower patterns on the right side)
and of course, this wouldn't be a Mid-Autumn Festival without that famed lady that lives on the moon, Chang-Er
and as she looks down from her lofty lantern perch with the bright yellow moon as background, I remember dimly the childhood stories of Chang-Er, the saint who saved the world from a tyrant king or depending on the version you may have heard or preferred, the greedy sinner who stole the pill of immortality and got trapped on the moon? (Stories of chinese immortals are embellished and dramatized quite a fair bit in comic books and chinese movies nowadays, that sometimes I can't even remember the correct version anymore, if ever there was one to start with!)
And of course, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also the time when hotels, Chinese restaurants and bakeries charge us a *bomb* (my mum calls it daylight robbery using a certain flowery Cantonese phrase) for the beautifully packaged boxes of mooncakes. Go to any shopping mall during this period and you will be deluged by numerous stalls each marketing their own unique flavors of mooncakes (and some pretty unusual ones, e.g. champagne truffle with snowskin - nice flavors but still quite bizarre for a mooncake). The biggest of these mooncake extravaganzas has got to be the one held annually at the basement hall of Takashimaya Shopping Center. If I had walked through the length of the two aisles and sample-tasted a morsel of mooncake from EACH stall, I'm fairly certain that I would have had my full quota of mooncakes for the year and will not be tempted to buy any.
Not to mention also the free mooncakes that did the office rounds, compliments of the season and one of the few corporate gifts for which you don't have to sign a declaration form of receipt to pass to your personnel department, unless of course, your particular box of mooncakes is gold-gilded and loaded with stuff other than mooncakes!
Generally, I'm ambivalent about mooncakes - they're nice in small portions (no big deal if I miss out on any - definitely not in the same category as my durian fixes) and notwithstanding the quota having been filled with the sample-tasting and complimentary mooncakes, being a creature of weak will, I'm easily succumbed by retailers' wiles and will still plonk money on the table for a box of 4 on account of some attractive and intricately patterned red box with 'cheongsam button' details (thus ending up as another marketing statistic *sigh*).
Won't be showing you that box evidencing my moment of weakness, but will show you instead the mid-autumn tea setting below with the mooncakes put to lovely use... by the way, the filling for these mooncakes was a pleasant (not too sweet) lotus paste with medlar seeds (kei-chi), melon seeds and ginseng (sounds healthy, right, but alas, another marketing ploy - any health benefits from the last 3 ingredients will have been overpowered by the calories from the lotus paste).
This last shot features two of my favourite snacks for this year's Mid-Autumn festival - a super light and crispy sesame biscuits (the round biscuits at the bottom of the pic) and the slightly sweet, sticky and crispy "sat kei ma" [light egg-flour biscuits held together by either sticky caramelized brown sugar or molasses] (the square block at the top of the pic) - one of my childhood favourites.
A belated Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to one and all, and hoped you managed to at least get a peep of that full moon a couple of nights ago!