How to Travel to China for a Day

brenda

Destination: China

Mode of Transport: Moon Cake

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Performers at the NYC Mid-Autumn Festival 2014

This coming Monday, September 8, 2014, the Chinese will be celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival dates back over 3,000 years ago and you can learn all about its history here – because it’s way too long a history for me to write. I’m just going to write about the fun stuff… the DISH!

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Signs of the Moon Cake everywhere in Chinatown, NYC

Although I’m Filipino, I’m of Chinese descent, so I grew up celebrating this festival, though not very seriously. I vaguely remember this holiday –  so I asked my mother and sister what they know and remember about this festival; they both basically said they really know nothing outside of eating the moon cake.

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We didn’t grow up too traditionally Chinese, I think because we emigrated to the U.S. 34 years ago. So, I asked my friend Li Xiong, who is from Shanghai, what the tradition means to her and how she celebrated it back home. She tells me that the festival is “equivalent to our Thanksgiving.”

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Huge selection of Moon Cake at New Kam Man

The date of the festival is different every year because it is according to the Lunar calendar. It usually lands in September or October. Li tells me that they get together with their families, mom cooks a gigantic dinner and, at the end of the night, they share moon cake. After all the eating, they go outside and admire and appreciate the moon, which at this time of year is usually full.

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Still at Kam Man – Look at all the signs for Moon Cake.

I’ve never known that we had to share the mooncake; in my family we eat one each – we have to change that starting this year! After much prodding, my mother finally remembered the game she used to play as a child – basically, they threw dice, and whoever won received the biggest moon cake.

If you're traveling with kids, make sure to check out the 2nd floor at New Kam Man

If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to check out the 2nd floor at New Kam Man

I asked Li if they played any games during this festival and she said no. There are so many Chinese immigrants in other countries in the world that it seems that the Chinese interpreted this holiday a bit differently depending on where they emigrated to.

Mom with box of Moon Cake

Mom with box of Moon Cake

This week, we ventured out to buy our mooncakes. My mother wanted to buy an imported one from Hong Kong, which is available at Kam Man (a Chinese Grocery/general store on Canal Street). There was so much to choose from, but my mother chose one that had white lotus and two egg yolks inside – the yolk is the best part!

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Cool bag for the Moon Cake

Guess how much a box of four cost? $39.99 – and that is not even the most expensive! Li tells me that some even cost in the hundreds – each! She says that the packaging is what makes it so expensive; some brands package the cakes with real gold.

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Some icy Moon Cakes also available at Kam Man

During the festival, these special boxes are purchased especially as gifts, and after the moon cakes are eaten, the gift recipient usually keeps the special packaging.

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These are available at Fay Da Bakery.

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Luckily, you can also buy individual Mooncakes at Fay Da.

For comparison sakes, I bought a box from a bakery called Fay Da on Lafayette St. I went with the mixed blend at $29.95 for four.  After trying both, everyone was right, the better one is the one made in Hong Kong.

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Some information inside Fay Da’s box of Moon Cakes.

Festivals like these are one of the many reasons why I appreciate my hometown, NYC, so much. I’ve never been to China, but at any given moment, I can feel like I’ve traveled there. Don’t get me wrong –  China is on my bucket list, but until then… I’ve got my Chinatown.

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Red lotus with egg yolk – my favorite. Isn’t it pretty?

If you’re in NYC this Saturday, September 6, 2014, make sure to stop by Chinatown to get transported to China during the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and pick up some mooncake. Visitors can marvel at the tradition, the food and the merriment of China from NYC! Also, at night, check out the moon and think of the Chinese celebrating with family and stand in awe of the same moon.

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Moca is having an event for families, which I’m sure is not to miss!

Give the gift of moon cake. Let’s travel the world, one dish at a time. Will you celebrate the Mid – Autumn Festival with us? Where will you be? Please head on over to the website here and let us know, let’s DISH!  If you like this, I would love for you to share!








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0 Replies to “How to Travel to China for a Day”

  1. Oh my goodness – an egg yolk inside of a cake? How interesting! It does look really nice, too…and if the dessert justifies the price, considering this isn’t a daily indulgence, I hope you savored every bite and fully enjoyed the taste and the tradition behind it!

    1. Stacey, interesting with the egg yolk, huh? The lotus seed is very sweet and the egg yolk is salty so it’s a very good balanced dish. What’s great about moon cake is it’s only available during the Mid-autumn festival. I have no choice but to savor it but once a year! Thank you so much for coming to the party!

  2. Camesha, the cake is sweet and the egg yolk inside is salty – its a good balanced dish. I’m so happy I was able to show you something new, its such a pleasure for me! OOOHHH Pocky is great isn’t it? Thank you so much for coming for the festival!

  3. That’s so awesome that you could see all of that in NYC! It’s a pretty good taste of the real thing! 🙂

    I knew Korea had their own “thankgiving” (called Chuseok) because I lived there for 18 months teaching English. I do believe it is going on right now as well cause it goes with the moon. I knew Japan didn’t have anything like it, but I had no idea that China did! So cool! Makes me miss being in East Asia. 🙂

    1. Wow, 18 months in Korea? What a wonderful experience Jennifer! I haven’t had the chance to visit Korea, can’t wait to travel there. Yes, I do believe both holidays celebrate the same thing…which is the moon. I’d have to investigate the difference/similarities between the Chinese and the Korean festival. Thank you of visiting with us!

  4. brenda – what a deliciously gorgeous post (i love the photos!). and you’ve convinced me that i need to try mooncake! i’ve been to china, but i knew nothing of this tradition before going. i love the boxes they are packaged in as well. (do stores only sell mooncakes during this festival? or can you get them year-round?)

    1. April – I can’t wait for the opportunity to visit China, it’s a dream destination for my family and I. Unfortunately, moon cakes are only around during these holidays, which is what makes them so special! I’m sure you will enjoy moon cake, its very tasty. Let me know what you think when you get the chance to try one. Thank you so much for “traveling” with us!

  5. That sounds like an amazing festival! It’s always fun to go into different grocery stores, but to know there’s so many different types of one cake. Crazy! It is true though that, especially for kids, life’s all about the food. That’s where memories are made. 😉

    1. It was fun. The cakes are all so good. I have a new favorite made with green tea! Life definitely is sweeter and more memorable because of the food! Thank you for coming along with us for this festival!

  6. Ohhh I love me some mooncake. My mother lived there for a few years and would return with the most delicious mooncakes (which we’d gobble up in no time!). Will be sure to check out the festival next time I’m in NYC during that time. Thanks for the great info 🙂