Yes – it is the time of the year that people queue up to purchase big boxes of mooncakes to give away as a present or to enjoy it together with their family. Mooncakes are being advertised, sold and eaten everywhere.
The most authentic flavour is lotus paste with salted eggs in the middle. Some are round other square baked, decorated with an imprint of the manufacturer. There are countless types of mooncakes, ranging from snowy, durian, chocolate, taro to ice-cream – and even those with flavours that your dog might like!
In 1986, a chef at the Spring Moon restaurant at the Peninsula hotel created the custard mooncake, with a golden, flaky crust and a filling similar to that in the city’s famous egg tarts. But if you are looking for the city’s top mooncakes at this late date, you are probably out of luck. The very high end ones – the ones handmade by chefs at Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants at five-star hotels – sell out already in August (if not earlier!).
Mooncakes are a gift and curse… The problem is waste. According to Green Power, Hong Kong alone throws out one million mooncake boxes and more than 1.5 million mooncakes a year. This is because the cake is seen mostly as a symbolic present – far more are gifted in the name of tradition than can possibly be consumed.
There are charities that are happy to take non-perishable mooncakes – but you would have had to give those to them earlier, today or tomorrow will be too late (here’s a list with charities that accept donations). Also, I’ve seen that there are places where you can drop off your mooncake boxes for recycling.
By the way, did you know the history about mooncakes? Mooncakes have always been more about politics than food. As folklore goes, a Ming rebellion used mooncakes to spirit around secret messages in a plot to overthrow their Yuan Dynasty rulers. Slips of paper baked into the cakes were allegedly used to prompt rebels to rise up on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (today), which is when the Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated to this day.