Every year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, Chinese and other Asian cultures celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Among the festivities is a food that is very important to the Chinese culture. Known as mooncakes, these treats are an acquired taste that help to make the festival (occurring when the moon is fullest and brightest) complete.
The popular version of this is Cantonese. It is a round pastry consisting of a thin crust filled with a paste made from red beans or lotus seeds. They are often eaten with tea, and can be high-end in quality, which is why they are consumed in great quantities by businessmen or by those hosting others.
Mooncakes also happen to be highly caloric. One small cake can contain over 1,000 calories. "You cut it into small pieces so the whole family can share," says Maria Cordero, a celebrity cook.
Of course, as time goes along, there have many variations on the traditional recipe. For instance, those who prefer a sweeter snack may prefer a mooncake that has an egg custard or ice cream filling, and those who prefer something more savory may enjoy it with honey and ham.
With origins dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), mooncake recipes have had plenty of time to be altered and experimented with, making them more palatable to not only the Chinese people, but Westerners as well. Perhaps one day, we will see these become prevalent in American establishments.