On a previous trips to Singapore, I arrived just in time for the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. The Mid-Autumn festival is also called the Moon Festival, and among the Chinese community, friends, family and business acquaintances will bring each other mooncakes as presents.
Mooncakes are rich in cultural symbolism. They are round, symbolizing completeness and unity, reflecting the reunion of families and the full moon. Mooncakes are often beautifully packaged and presented in ornate boxes, making them popular gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Giving mooncakes is a way of wishing well-being and good fortune.
Aaah mooncakes! Tender, golden skin embracing a filling of sweet lotus paste. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I really wish I could write how tasty they are, and how much I love them, but in all honesty, I don’t like mooncakes at all. The filling is much too sweet for me, and despite all my good intentions, I’ve never managed to eat more than a bite or two.
Ok, there’s one exception. I once had a fancy-pancy, new-age mooncake in Beijing, which had custard cream instead of the regular lotus paste filling. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any mooncakes like that since then, but I’ve been fooled a couple of times by the egg yolk ones, as the egg yolk sometimes look slightly like custard cream. Can you imagine my disappointed grumpy-face, when realizing, that the yellow stuff inside is a salty egg yolk:
(and that’s an understatement).
Anyway, I had convinced myself that mooncakes must be an acquired taste (and a taste that I very much want to acquire), so I decided to bring back some mooncakes from a bakery shop, Bengawan Solo, in Singapore Airport. Bengawan Solo is a renowned bakery chain in Singapore, specializing in traditional Asian pastries and cakes, and you could pick and choose among the different flavors. Bengawan Solo has branches throughout Singapore, and the shop at the airport opened back in 1998, offering premium baked goods to travelers shopping for edible souvenirs.
If you purchased more than 4 mooncakes they are placed in a beautiful gift box, and you could pick and choose from different flavors. I chose a plain one with white lotus paste, one with nuts, one with bean paste and one with egg yolk, to trick my friends with.
After I got back from Singapore, I met with some friends, and I brought the mooncakes along. They looked so delicious, so I thought that now, now is the time. Today is the day I’ll be able to call myself a mooncake fan. But no. I tried all the different flavors, but none of them won me over. I still haven’t given up completely, but maybe you could help me with my mooncake strategy. Should I just continue eating lotus paste/egg yolk mooncakes until I’ll eventually learn to like them (in 100 years or so)? Or is there a special brand or a certain flavor, which is more suitable for converting mooncake newbies like me?