It makes me laugh to think we are celebrating Mid-Autumn festival, yet it is still so hot we need the air conditioning on!
Mid-Autumn Festival (AKA Moon Festival) celebrates the harvest on the night of the year that the moon is supposedly it’s biggest and brightest. It is a time to spend with family and loved ones while gazing at the moon, talking abut the moon, reading poems about the moon (I am not making this up) and worshiping the moon goddess. Aside from worshipping any goddesses, we were blessed to celebrate this special night with the first family meal we have had together in a long time as Layne has been working around the clock. We ate outside so we could “all things moon” and were enchanted by a fireworks celebration, light up kites and floating lanterns being released into the night sky.
And don’t forget the moon cakes! Moon cakes are a traditional food to be eaten on the Mid-Autumn festival, and although we have tried many varieties, I must admit none are to our liking. Kind of like most wedding cakes; beautiful to look at, don’t want to eat it.
Caught up in the spirit of the holiday, here is a little poem I came up with to celebrate:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Moon cakes taste awful.
Still in celebration mode, the next night we were graciously invited to Mr. Li’s home for dinner. What he calls dinner, anyone else would call an absolute banquet! His mother prepared…ready? 21 dishes for us, plus soup, fruit, and special cakes/cookies for the kids and yogurt (he knows they love yogurt). TWENTY ONE DISHES! It made my feeble offering of homemade American applesauce seem pretty pathetic. When I thought everything was on the table I took some photos of the proud chef and her son…
And then she went back into the kitchen to bring more food…
And then more food!
The table was an ever changing landscape. Stupidly I continued to snap photos of the growing spread thinking, “this is it, how could there be more?” But indeed there was a steady stream from the kitchen throughout the evening. I wanted a photo of everything all together but it was impossible as the table could not hold it all at once. After sampling a bit of everything, Mr. Li’s mother noted which were favorites and which could be removed, and those were replaced with new plates of food. After stuffed full and rested, she took the opportunity to fry up some spring rolls, boil dumplings and saute spicy tofu. Between plates, chopsticks, beer bottles and Layne’s golden tequila gimlets (yes, he has imported these to Asia now) the table was groaning.
The centerpiece of it all was a beautiful symbolic basket called the Grand Harvest, filled with seasonal vegetables; steamed edamame, boiled corn, roasted purple sweet potatoes and taro root; an edible work of art. Knowing I am vegetarian, there were only two dishes that contained meat. Everything else was a variety of vegetables and tofu with no two items featuring the same ingredient and nary a grain of rice or noodle in sight as filler. Absolutely remarkable.
This evening both defined and raised the bar for hospitality. At one point I left the table to assist Orion, and returned to find my teacup immediately and silently refilled. They bought one of each beverage at the market to ensure we were satisfied with their selection. They sent us home with not only leftovers, but unflinchingly bagged up the remaining grapes and cookies the children had been enjoying throughout the evening. We are very honored to have been treated so royally and thankful for the opportunity to taste real homestyle Chinese cooking at it’s absolute finest.
As my father in law says after a fine repast, “I regret that I have but one stomach to give to this meal!”
p.s. Finally caught on camera, the act of cat herding: