I knew something fun must be coming up when these huge new stands (always with bright yellow backgrounds) began springing up everywhere last month along the streets of TP. Hồ Chí Minh.
These stands are similar to the temporary stands set up in America to sell pumpkins at Halloween time or Christmas trees in December.
They sell a large variety of mooncakes in evidently large quantities. Given the bright packaging, it seems that they are meant to be offered as gifts, and we did receive several mooncakes from friends. The large mooncake in the photograph below was hand-made by the family of a young man in my English Club, and was exceptionally delicious. We have eaten three of the four that he gave us, and each had a different filling.
The mooncakes are a key element of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which Tuan at the blog ۩ ₪₪₪₪₪▪ Sticky Rice ▪₪₪₪₪₪ ۩ outlined in a posting yesterday. There is quite a bit more detail at the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The wikipedia entry states:
The Vietnamese version of the holiday recounts the legend of Thằng Cuội, whose banyan trees were uprooted after his wife accidentally urinated on it and took him with it to the moon. Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns to show Cuội the way to Earth.
We saw a few children last night on the hem (lane) with beautiful lanterns. My friend emem suggested that we go downtown to the Unification Palace to see festival events tailored for children, but we arrived back in central Sài Gòn too late last night from a festival party we attended in Củ Chi, in the western-most reaches of HCMC.
Since this festival is very important in most Asian countries, other Asians in Viet Nam also celebrate the festival in different ways. We were fortunate to be invited to a party given by the Taiwanese business owners of a cookie factory out in the countryside within the Củ Chi District.
The dinner reminded me of vineyard dinners in the Napa Valley of California, with several bottles of good red wine and scrumptious food prepared by our Taiwanese business friend David with the help of several very supportive Vietnamese.
The temperature outside was just right at about 27 C. (80 F.), and the quiet countryside air was refreshing after a long motorbike ride down diesel-smog highways.
Their factory makes an exceptionally tasty French Cookies in several varieties. My favorite has a thin cappuccino-tasting cream filling. Even though this festival is not a legal holiday in Việt Nam, they had given the afternoon off to their Vietnamese employees (most of whom live at the factory) and set up a parallel party for them.