After a well-fought election whereby pineapple tarts became a symbol for victory, Singaporeans are gearing up for yet another unhealthy gem: mooncakes. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 29 September, a day that promises laughter, joy, and a whole lot of mooncakes.
But how much do you know about these sweet treats that are popping up in almost all bakeries in Singapore nowadays?
So, grab a cup of tea, sit back, and let us take you on a delightful journey through the fascinating world of mooncakes.
The Legend of the Mooncakes: A Love Story Beyond the Stars
Once upon a time, in a land not too far from the sunny island of Singapore, there lived a legendary archer named Hou Yi. This wasn’t just any archer; he was the kind who could give Hawkeye a run for his money. If he were Singaporean, he would have a marksman tab sewn on his No.4.
Hou Yi was so skilled that he shot down nine out of ten suns, proving that not even vibranium could match up to his indestructible arrows.
But Hou Yi wasn’t just a hero; he was also a loving husband. After saving the world from a massive heatstroke (and incessant complaints about the unbearable heat from his wife, Chang’e), he received an immortality elixir as a reward.
But as fate would have it, Chang’e ended up consuming the elixir to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, transforming into the Moon Goddess of Immortality and taking up residence on the moon.
Talk about a long-distance relationship, eh?
Hou Yi, missing his wife terribly, started the tradition of offering cakes to her under the moon, giving birth to the tradition of mooncakes.
The Moon Goddess: Singapore’s Top Matchmaker
Now, you might be wondering what Chang’e does all day on the moon without TikTok to keep her entertained.
I can’t even imagine.
Well, it turns out, she has taken up a new hobby: playing matchmaker for the lonely hearts on Earth.
With a cosmic vantage point, she ties lovers together with magical silk threads, invisible to mortals.
So, if you’re single and ready to mingle, perhaps it’s time to offer a mooncake to the celestial matchmaker this Mid-Autumn Festival! Who knows, you might just find your perfect match.
A Revolutionary Tale: Mooncakes as Agents of Change
If love stories aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps this revolutionary tale will tickle your fancy.
Legend has it that mooncakes played a crucial role in a historic uprising, serving as secret message carriers to coordinate a revolt against the ruling Mongols.
It seems that mooncakes were the original WhatsApp of ancient China, facilitating covert communications long before the invention of smartphones.
This clever strategy led to the successful overthrow of the Mongol rule, marking a significant chapter in Chinese history.
The Ancient Encryption Tool: Edible and Delicious
In a time when encryption tools were not just digital but also edible, mooncakes served as secret message carriers. These delicious pastries were printed with scrambled messages, which could only be deciphered when sliced and pieced together in a particular manner.
And the best part?
The evidence could be destroyed simply by devouring the mooncakes. Talk about a tasty secret.
This ancient method of communication was not only ingenious but also added a delightful layer of mystery to the mooncake’s rich history.
The Evolution of Mooncakes: From Hu Cake to Mooncake
Before they were known as mooncakes, these delicious pastries were called “Hu cakes”, named after the region from which the ingredients originated.
It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty that the cakes were renamed mooncakes, thanks to a suggestion from Lady Yang, who was inspired by the full moon in the sky.
It seems that even back then, branding was everything.
This change in name marked the beginning of a new era for the mooncake, elevating it to a symbol of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
A Symbol of Unity: Sharing Mooncakes with Family
In the spirit of unity and family reunion, mooncakes are traditionally shared among family members, with each person receiving an equal-sized piece. But let’s be honest, in a city where food is a national obsession, we can imagine the friendly squabbles over the last piece of mooncake in Singaporean households.
This tradition embodies the spirit of unity and togetherness, as families gather to celebrate the festival with joy and laughter.
But wait: while Polling Day is a public holiday for you to consume pineapple tarts, the Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t a public holiday for you to consume mooncakes. So please still head to work or school on 29 September, please.
Record-Breaking Mooncakes: A Culinary Feat
In 2013, a team of chefs in Shanghai created the largest mooncake ever, weighing a whopping 2,496.4 kg and measuring 2.57 metres in diameter.
Now, that’s what we call a mooncake feast fit for a lion city. This record-breaking mooncake showcased the culinary prowess and creativity of the chefs, setting a new standard for mooncake creations worldwide.
Here’s how big it looks:
I don’t know about you, but I feel full just by looking at that image.
The Healthier Alternative: Snow Skin Mooncakes
As Singaporeans become more health-conscious, the traditional mooncake has undergone a transformation to suit modern tastes.
Enter the snow skin mooncake, a healthier alternative with a mochi-like crust and fruit fillings, offering a delightful option for those watching their waistlines.
This innovation in the mooncake world has been welcomed with open arms, providing a refreshing twist to the traditional mooncake.
But of course, do note that it’s still packed with sugar, so eat in moderation.
The Perfect Pair: Mooncake and Tea Combinations
Just like kaya toast and kopi, mooncakes have their perfect pairings too. To balance out the sweetness of the mooncakes, people often enjoy them with a cup of tea.
And it’s not just the teh-o you get from your nearby hawker centre.
We’re talking about atas tea.
From ripe Pu’er tea with nut mooncakes to jasmine tea with mung bean mooncakes, these pairings offer a harmonious blend of flavours that will delight your taste buds.
So, as you indulge in a mooncake feast, don’t forget to brew a pot of your favourite tea to complement the experience!
The Caloric Bomb: A Mooncake’s Nutritional Facts
Before you go on a mooncake binge, here’s a little tidbit to keep in mind: a typical piece of lotus seed paste mooncake with one yolk can contain about 716 calories, depending a lot on its size and its filling. As mentioned earlier, snow skin mooncakes contain fewer calories, with an average of 350 calories per piece.
Another popular variety of mooncake is the Teochew-style mooncake. This type is filled with a mixture of melon seeds, white sesame seeds, and dried winter melon, and is typically lower in calories compared to the traditional lotus seed paste mooncakes. A piece of Teochew-style mooncake can contain around 400-500 calories.
Lastly, a typical ice cream mooncake weighing about 100 grams can have roughly 200 to 300 calories.