Saturday, October 07, 2006

Moonlight Mile
As burrowed in self-pity, job woes and impending tax debt as I am currently, I wasn't exactly walking on sunshine Friday night when I left my HK digs to meet a pal in Wanchai for some basic adult beverage-based male bonding.

But when I hit the exit door and grumped into the courtyard ... damn. I felt as if Steven Spielberg or Frank Capra were filming. It was jammed with families eating, laughing, chatting, screaming and milling with no more purpose than food, fellowship and fun minus the beer and brauts vendors. The most commercial aspect were the glow-lights that young and old alike had wrapped around their arms, torsos, legs, and in the case of one (in US politico-correcto speak) "physically challenged" celebrant, her wheel chair.

It's the Mid-Autumn Festival here, kind of a Chinese Thanksgiving/harvest festival, known mostly to me as "moon cake disposal week." Moon cakes are the Chinese equivalent of fruit cakes except more expensive. Like uraninum and fruit cakes, moon cakes are extremely dense, potentionally explosive and have an extraordinarily long half life (760 million years). No one that I know actually eats them, but instead pass them on like counterfeit money or tainted goods.
But after three years here, earlier in the day I'd seen another side of the Mid-Autumn Festival when a female Chinese coworker had bustled in late afternoon of Mid-Autumn Festival eve with a paper mache rabbit lantern.

(We pause to explain the rabbit significance...viewing the harvest moon is part of the festival, and the legend says that it all began when a virtuous maiden/mondo-babe with whom an emperor was smitten with refused to do the nasty with him and instead ate an eternal life potion he'd planned for them both. Her impulsive pharmacutically-inspired behavior shot her to the moon where she still lives today, chastely attended by the Old Man on the Moon and his pet rabbit. The emperor died unconsumated and was last reported to be ecking out a living as an assistant night manager for a Qwik Lube shop in Minot, North Dakota.)

My coworker, a late 20something English-fluent, college educated Hong Kong Modern Woman, was acting like a 12-year-old anygirl with the latest boy band release as she pulled Mr Rabbit out of her bag. "Every year I buy one and my mother throws it away after a short time! I like the rabbit lantern so much!"

So, apparently did other English-fluent, college-educated otherwise sane Modern Female coworkers who flocked to her desk as if she'd flung out a pair of Robbie Williams' or Edison Chan's used briefs. She ceremoniously hung Mr Rabbit from a rack under one of the newsroom's TVs and for about 8-minutes she and the other women were giddy photographing themselves with cell phone cameras as virginal Chinese maidens snuggling with their paper moon rabbit.

How could I scoff? And the feeling returned and multiplied when I saw the glow light lit families romping and stomping under a perfect harvest moon. Would that it would shine forever.
Fantastic explanation of the moon festival. I'd show it to my girlfriend, but I don't think she'd get the humor in it.
And I have to admit, I have eaten the moon cake... I think it's still settling in my stomach for the next week or so. And I have witnessed a few others eating them. I think tradition is that everyone must eat one and only one.
I just had moon cake for the first time yesterday (my wifes friend brought them home from China), and I love them. Heavy stuff, but excellent cake if you ask me.
Okay, so I exaggerated. Yes, I've eaten some, but you're both right about the "heavy" factor - one reason I stayed away from all but the fake neo-moon cakes this year: Starbucks had coffee flavored ones which I much preferred to the traditional egg yolk fare. Red bean paste ain't bad either....
I forgot to mention. Prior to the moon festival, I had a kosher moon cake at dinner for Rosh Hashanah. Certainly not something I was expecting. And that one wasn't nearly as heavy as any of the others.
Shouldn't that be "honey moon cake"?
I've eaten moon cake for the past couple of years but am abstaining this year. Except for the new jack style moon cakes, they are generally vile-tasting. As part of my strategy to directly cause my mother-in-law to say to my wife "This is so sweet/salty/spicy! Do you always eat food that is this sweet/salty/spicy???" and thus trigger the Apocalypse, we gifted my in-laws with a couple of boxes of the Mrs. Fields chocolate moon cakes (glorified brownies dipped in chocolate icing).
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