Mooncake growing pains
by Sarah Turnstyle
IF you have Chinese friends/colleagues/clients, September can always be a dangerous month's load of days. The problem? It's the Moon festival! The moon festival period can be difficult enough for foreigners as it is, moon cakes on display absolutely everywhere. Hideous packaging suggesting opulence and class, but inside just inferior quality moon shaped (or round) pastry. Within that....bean paste! What a treat for all, beans! Sweet sweet beans!
So that's the bullet...but what of the gun? The sawn-off shot gun is your office colleague, the AK-47 is your Chinese language tutor or language exchange partner, the gambler's pistol hidden in the stockings is your Chinese neighbour. As a foreigner living in Beijing, early September is more like the demilitarised minefield on the 38th parallel than a month. But the dangers here are not Claymore anti-personnel mines, the dangers here are moon cakes.
It looks nice enough, doesn't it? But it isn't
Scenario 1: "The New Moon Ambush" a.k.a. "The Moon Switch"
You are given a box of moon cakes from a distance, or in a situation where you couldn’t possibly be expected to try one (lift, toilet etc). Actually a blessing in disguise. Now you can take said moon cakes and give them to someone else. 一箭双雕！！
Scenario 2: "The Moon Trap" a.k.a. "The Longest Moon"
This is the one we all dread, anyone who has experienced it will tell you: RUN!! This is when you are given moon cakes whilst at someone's flat, or at a time when you can be expected to eat one. You have to have at least one bite, and because of that, you will need to suppress the gag reflex, smile whilst wanting to cry and be thankful when all you really want is the nearest chisel. Remember to be thankful and try and divert attention if you need to spit into a tissue.
Scenario 3: "Moon rain" a.k.a. "Luna luck"
This is the rare one. Only a few of us have experienced it directly. You are walking along near a high rise, suddenly discarded moon cakes start falling around you, having been defenestrated by someone unable to perform "The Moon Switch" in time. The best thing to do here is move away quickly.
Remember: Always say you want to share them with your wife/partner/friends rather than eating one at the time.
Did you know: Moon cakes are shaped like a full moon, which looks like a circle, and which symbolises the family! Thus the moon festival is important.