Love and Mooncakes

Mooncakes by Linda Shiue

Look outside at the full moon.  What does it evoke for you? It makes me think of love and mooncakes.

This is the time of year when millions of Chinese families around the world celebrate the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival. Family and friends gather to eat mooncakes, dense fruit and nut filled pastries, under the light of the full moon.  Pomelos, the Asian citrus resembling a moon-sized grapefruit, are also traditionally enjoyed during this festival.  As with harvest festivals in other cultures, this was traditionally a time for farmers to celebrate the end of the summer harvest season.

In San Francisco, one of my favorite Taiwanese-American bakeries, Sheng Kee, makes modern interpretations of mooncakes that I enjoy even more than the classic versions.  Tonight, we had a few traditional flavors– red date and red bean, as well as some newer flavors– pineapple, green tea, and, in a nod to tradition, pomelo.

When I left for college and was homesick, I sent my mother a card with a classical Chinese poem which describes how no matter how far two people are separated by distance, they can take comfort in knowing that they gaze at the same moon.

I remembered that poem tonight, gazing at an impossibly bright and large moon, eating mooncakes with my family, and listening to “The Moon Represents My Heart,” a famous song by  Teresa Teng, a legendary Taiwanese pop star in the 1970s.

© 2010 Linda Shiue

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