Today is a holiday in Taiwan, the so-called “Mid-Autumn Festival” or “Moon Festival”.
Traditionally the festival takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month (lunar month, that is). It’s the second most important holiday after Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated in February.
The tradition in Taiwan includes having barbecue and eating moon cakes with your family (here is the Wikipedia link). People were firing up the grills in parks and in the streets and everyone seemed happy. Another traditional food is a citrus fruit called pomelo, because its shape resembles the full moon. Here is what it looks like:
The round moon cakes usually consist of a crust (flaky or chewy) and come with a variety of fillings (egg yolks, sweet red bean paste, pineapple…). There are different patterns stamped on top, for example rabbits, because instead of “the man on the moon” there is a “moon rabbit” here. I was given this really pretty box of moon cakes by Prof. Liu as a welcome gift.
My box included included moca chocolate chips, tropical fruit on black tea, caramel latte with sea salt and rose and lichi with cranberry and all of them tasted great. My favorite might have been the rose-litchi-cranberry. There was also some jasmine honey jelly, which reminded me a little of Turkish delight or lokum. The set also included this pretty dish with an engraved moon:
I spent the day sleeping in, reading, playing several rounds of Uno and Jenga with my new friends William (from El Salvador), Gina (from Taiwan) and Sujay (from India), and then went out for Sushi with them and some other international students. I also got to try some street food, grilled sticky rice with a black-sesame seed dressing. It’s very sweet and utterly delightful. So far, I really love the food in this country.
And here is the picture you’ve all been waiting for, me rocking the pomelo-hat: