Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mooncake Mania

NTDTV: Mooncake Mania

As Chinese around the globe celebrated the Moon Festival this weekend, many found themselves swept up in the search for the perfect mooncake.

For Chinese people around the world it's that time of year again...

Every year as the Chinese Moon Festival approaches, from Hong Kong to Shanghai to London--Chinese people around the world are buying boxes of sweet bean paste pastries as gifts for family and friends.

They're called mooncakes. And, like the holiday fruitcake in Western culture, the mooncake in Chinese culture is more important for its symbolism and tradition than for its taste. In fact, many of these cakes are said to go uneaten.

But that may be changing.

As Chinese tastes become more "global," there is an ever-greater variety of mooncake flavors on the market. It's no longer just limited to the traditional lotus seed paste or red bean paste. Now mooncake enthusiasts can enjoy dainty custard-filled cakes, or delicate white sugar powder confections. Flavors like green tea and even shark's fin have come into fashion.

And jumping on the trendy mooncake band wagon, ice cream giant Häagen Dazs has created a line of high-end, ice cream-filled mooncakes for those really seeking to make an impression. In these "cakes," the traditional preserved duck egg yolk is replaced by a sphere of mango sorbet.

Some mooncake purists are, of course, crying foul--commenting that these days anything round can be called a mooncake. But the cornucopia of new mooncake flavors and styles is sure to bring one welcome change: more mooncakes in the belly and less in the bin.