Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mooncakes and Autumn Celebration

This last Sunday was the Chinese Moon festival, on this day mooncakes are traditionally served. I have heard of the Moon festival but have never participated in it and well I didn't really this time either, but I did get to try to the traditional mooncake (my co-worker Sing even forgot about the festival, and the day after bought her mooncakes and gave me one). Eating the mooncake for me was in a way getting to know my ancestry better.
My great-grandmother was Chinese, but she was orphaned in France as a child, so within my family the genetic heritage of grandmother showed through in her children, grandchildren, and some of her great-grandchildren, but the cultural heritage has never really existed. This lack of knowledge of my great-grandmother's birth culture has always created identity issues within my family and still extends to this day even to myself. This last January I visited France to visit my mother's family who I have never been very close to due to my mother passing away when I was very young and a language barrier, the visit it allowed me to further understand my bi-racial heritage. Out of my cousins I have inherited predominately European looks, my mother was also predominately European looking, but I learned while I was there that even she faced racism. It is ironic that my mother would be ostracized for her height, she was the shortest of her siblings at 4'11", but out of all the children born to her sisters and brothers, her children would be the tallest, I'm only 5'3" and my brother is of average height. I think it is even more ironic that my mother would be alienated for her height in a country that is not exactly on the tall side.
While eating the mooncake I wondered what my mother would think? I ate it wondering if my western palate was too biased agains't the mooncake; it turns out I wasn't a big fan, but then I remembered my co-worker hadn't seemed all that enthused over the mooncake either and Sing happens to be one of biggest food lovers I know of. I also know I have an adventurous palate. Still I enjoyed that I got to participate in event that celebrates the harvest moon and the bounty of the season, but next time the Moon festival comes around, I think I'll sidestep the mooncake. I will add though that it is visually stunning.

image provided by http://www.snpfood.com/export/export_mooncake.php


The Daily Connoisseur said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us about your family and cultural heritage... I actually really identify with you... My mother is from Panama and I don't know very much about that side of my family and it always niggles at the back of my mind. I'm glad you were able to experience the mooncake- even if it wasn't that nice... which is a shame because "mooncake" sounds so delightful!

Rose said...

Moon cake is such a wonderful name! it's great that you tried some even if it wasn't so good.

It must be wonderful having a rich background. I can identify to some extent in that I have a whole Irish side to my family that I don't know at all and wouldn't really even know how to contact. In many ways I would love to have more of a connection with Ireland as I feel drawn to it.

Jenavira13 said...

Doesn't mooncake sound "delightful"?! There is most definately always a niggling at the back of the mind I think when one of parents is from a different country/culture; I think this is even more common living in California.

Jenavira13 said...

Rose, I can totally empathize with the feeling of being "drawn" to the country of origin that you don't really know. Of course in doing so I almost come with a fantasy about it, when the reality was very different.