5 Mooncake Facts You Probably Haven’t Heard Of
One of the grandest Chinese festivals is the Mid-Autumn Festival set to fall on 13 September 2019. It is also known as the Mooncake Festival because it is believed that during this time, the moon is at its brightest and roundest shape. It has been a practice for thousands of years to share a mooncake within a family as it symbolises familial bonds and prosperity. Here are some fun facts you probably didn't know:
1/5 It all started with a love story
It is believed that the moon is at its biggest and roundest form during mid-Autumn season. Ancient Chinese emperors from the time Zhou period over 3,000 years ago started worshipping the celestial body, as they believed that it would bring them bountiful harvest the following year. They would offer sacrifices to the moon, a custom which was eventually accepted by the masses and became popular as time passed by.
It has been known that the very first person to offer sacrifices to the moon was Hou Yi, who was granted an immortality elixir after showing great skill with his arrow during his fight with nine out of 10 suns. He gave the elixir to his wife, Chang’e, who drank it all after an envious apprentice tried to steal it and flew to the moon. Since then, she became the Moon Goddess of Immortality.
To continue showing his love for her wife, he made her a cake (hence, “mooncake”) and would place it on their yard for Chang’e to see.
2/5 How to cut a mooncake
Yes, you read that right. There’s actually a proper way to cut a mooncake instead of immediately biting into it.
Many people consider sharing a mooncake as the most momentous part of the Mid-Autumn festival as the delicacy symbolizes unity and prosperity. Most even say that a mooncake tastes better when shared.
The classic delicacy is usually cut into eight pieces firmly with a knife. It is believed that messages were once printed on mooncakes and had to be sliced and pieced together to reveal the message during the Yuan period.
A mooncake should be sliced evenly into several pieces until there is enough for everyone to share. It is usually paired with a strong cup of tea to balance out the sweetness.
3/5 The ideal mooncake and tea pairings
A single mooncake can be densely sweet and overly rich. It can be perfectly paired with a strong tea to balance out the delicacy’s sweetness. There are said to be certain teas that go great with particular flavours of mooncakes:
- Nut Mooncake – ripe pu’er tea or red Chinese tea
- Lotus Seed mooncake – Oolong tea or raw pu’er tea
- Mung Bean mooncake – Jasmine tea
- Red Bean mooncake – Taiwan Oolong tea or green tea
- Snow skin tea – fruity red tea
4/5 Snow skin mooncakes are healthier
Aside from it being easier to make and do not require any baking, snow skin mooncakes are actually healthier than the traditional ones. This type of mooncakes was created during the late 1960s because people felt that the traditional baked mooncake fillings like salted duck egg yolk, lotus seed paste, red bean, along with the lard and sugar to make the crust made a single mooncake high in sugar and oil.
Snow skin mooncakes are made with glutinous rice as the crust creating a white soft mochi-like texture and the fillings were replaced with fruits.
5/5 A single mooncake packs 1000 calories
It is difficult to resist the lure of a delicious mooncake. With the ever-expanding variety of flavours, creative combinations and textures, it would really be hard to just consume one.
If you haven’t heard, one mooncake is actually a big calorie bomb. Typical baked mooncakes or the traditional ones carry 700 to 1000 calories. It is notoriously high in sugar and fat because of the ingredients used in making one.
The key to preventing excessive calorie consumption is portion control. The general advice is to limit the intake to 100 calories or roughly one-eighth of an average mooncake if you are planning to snack on one this Mid-Autumn Festival.
- Words Syrah Vivien Inocencio