shanghai postcard #23: moon cakes

shanghai postcard #23: moon cakes

Mid-Autumn Festival is now well behind us, but two things remain: one lone moon cake in my cupboard, and the mystery of why moon cakes are so often un-delicious.

What the heck is a moon cake? Well, it's a dense, usually gooey middle wrapped in a pastry shell that's a bit like a non-flaky, non-buttery pie crust. They're pressed into wooden molds to make patterns on the top, and they're traditionally eaten at mid-Autumn festival.

Inside the shell, you'll find everything from red bean paste to meat to lotus root paste with egg yolks. The first year we lived here, I found some really yummy ones in Guangzhou filled with sesame seeds and nuts which were really tasty. I've never found them again.

Moon cakes last a really long time without refrigeration. They are so shelf-stable that there are terrible stories of disreputable moon cake makers simply peeling off the shell from last year's cakes and re-packaging the insides for sale the following year.

This year, a dear friend brought us some fancy custard-filled ones which were quite nice, and some lotus-and-egg-yolk ones as well. I like the lotus ones, but I pick out the egg yolks. I just can't quite do that flavor.

Speaking of all thing delicious, a food delivery outfit in town has come up with a very catchy English translation of their tag line, as spotted on a delivery scooter.