A moon cake is a delicately-stuffed round cake, symbolizing family reunions and best wishes. It is the most traditional and important food of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The cake is often exchanged as a gift between family and friends during the festival to convey their best wishes. There are all kinds of moon cakes to choose from. What’s especially important about moon cakes is their filling. The traditional fillings are sweetened bean paste, Jujube paste and nut paste. Nowadays, new fillings are being invented and produced all the time such as cream-chocolate or jam and dried fruits.
During Mid-Autumn Festival, hairy crab — rich in protein and amino acids — is probably one of most sought-after delicacy among Chinese people. Crabs are ready to lay their eggs around the time of the festival, meaning they are at their tastiest right then. A plate of steamed hairy crabs dressed with ginger and vinegar always forms the highlight of the Mid-Autumn Festival reunion dinner.
3. Osmanthus-flavored cake
It’s tradition in China to enjoy osmanthus-flavored cake and wine during Mid-Autumn Festival. They may be preferred because Mid-Autumn Festival is when the osmanthus flowers are in full bloom. Enjoying the sweet-scented osmanthus cake and wine also stands for family reunion and a happy life.
4. Lotus root foods
Every year, the lotus root harvesting season falls around Mid-Autumn Festival. With the coming of the autumn, it’s getting cold and windy outside. Lotus root foods contain essential minerals like copper and valuable complex vitamins which are good for increasing the appetite. The steamed lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice and topped with osmanthus-flavored honey signifies a charming and happy life.
In Mandarin, “pear” is homophonous with “separate,” both pronounced as “li.” For this reason, eating a pear during Mid-Autumn Festival symbolizes the people’s wish to avoid separation and implies their desire for reunion.
Watermelon is essential during Mid-Autumn Festival. It signifies fertility for being full of seeds and its round shape is a symbol of family reunion. In Shaanxi Province, the watermelon gets cut into the shape of a lotus, a symbol of good fortune, during the festival.
The tradition of eating Taro during Mid-Autumn Festival first started during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). In Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, the word “taro” has the same pronunciation as “luck is inside.” Eating them during the festival is believed to dispel any bad luck and bring good luck and wealth throughout the year.
Eating duck is popular during Mid-Autumn Festival because the taste of the duck is very rich during this season. During the festival, people in Fujian Province have the tradition to cook the duck with a type of taro widely found across the area. The duck is seasoned with osmanthus flowers for the festival dinner table in Jiangsu Province, since osmanthus flowers are in full bloom during the season. In Sichuan Province, people enjoy smoked and baked duck as a popular main course.
9. River Snails
River Snails are the Mid-Autumn Festival specialty of Guangzhou City. They might look unappetizing and smell unpleasant when raw, but after being cooked with several herbs and spices to drive out the putrid odor, the delicacy is an indispensable food on the Mid-Autumn Festival dinner table for the people in Guangzhou. The festival is the best season to eat snails and eating them is believed to help brighten the eyesight.
The tradition of eating pumpkin during Mid-Autumn Festival started with poor people living south of the Yangtze River. Legend has it that a long time ago, a girl named Huang Hua who came from a poor family, lived with her gravely ill parents who were unable to feed and clothe themselves. On August 15 on the lunar calendar of one year, she took home two pumpkins and prepared them for her parents, whose health was fully restored after eating the pumpkin. The tradition has been handed down for generations and eating pumpkin on Mid-Autumn Festival night is believed to bring people good health.
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