Monday, October 09, 2006

A Mid-Autumn's Tale

6 October this year (being the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar) was the designated date for the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong QiuJie) worldwide. Starting as a celebration of harvest in ancient China, the 'celebration' in Singapore commenced a few weeks ago with the Chinatown light-up of lantern displays, and not just any old red lanterns but huge displays of...

Autumn Flowers (we may not have real autumn leaves in Singapore, but we sure know how to create our own autumn neon colors)!
Autumn 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
Chang-Er's Glance

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!)
Chang-Er's Perspective

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).
A Mid-Autumn Setting

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.
Mid-Autumn Calories

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!


Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your pictures are fabulous! The third is particularly intriguing...

I love mooncakes and your snack plate looks very yummy!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

10/11/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger Precious Moments said...

you always have a way to make things really beautiful. That nite the moon was exceptionally orangy. wonder whether it is the "reflection" of the burning forest.

10/11/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@rosa, 'particularly intriguing', do you mean the mythical figure Chang-Er? Do a google search and read to your heart's content about her :-)

@PM, thank you... was it really that much more orangy? didn't really notice it myself but then I wasn't really paying attention...

10/11/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Audrey Cooks said...

Cath, so far u managed to capture the rustic look of mooncake in your photo, with slightly burnt skin and thick inviting lotus filling. I always remembered mooncakes like that instead of the commercial ones we get nowadays, with their skin all pale and perfect.

10/13/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@audrey - thanks, I too like the ones with the nicely baked look!

10/20/2006 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger t&t said...

gorgeous shot of moon cake! it reminds me the family moment back in my country. love it! by the way, is it possible to use that photo on my website to featuring mid-autumn festival?

9/25/2007 03:20:00 PM  

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