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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Ted gets moon-eyed


… we had a lunar eclipse last week, a very special one, as the Harvest Moon also became a “blood” moon. If you were lucky enough to be in a place with little or no light pollution, like Scotland, and you’d been geeky enough to take your high powered telescope with you then you would have had a spectacular view that would have made it well worth getting up at 3am (you know who you are Mandy).

So what makes it a blood moon Ted? Well for a start it glows red, and the reason for this complicated, but in a nutshell, dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse when we are between it and the sun and bingo 40 watt red light-bulb effect.

The Harvest Moon is the moon closest to the autumn equinox. It’s been celebrated by Chinese and South East Asian cultures for many centuries, pretty much like our own European traditions of Harvest Festivals, where we celebrate the end of the harvest and the abundance (hopefully) of Nature’s bounty to provide our winter supplies. Chinatown in Soho is a great place to go for the Harvest (Happy) Moon festival as they really get into the swing with little parades, lots of lanterns, and most importantly, this is the only time of year when you can buy fresh mooncakes.

Making (or nowadays buying them from the shop ready-made and nicely packaged) and sharing mooncakes is one of the traditions of the festival. The Chinese believe that the round shape of the cakes signifies completeness and unity, and thus sharing them with friends and family during the festival completes the circle and unifies us all for another year.

The Doll loves mooncakes and so she took no convincing at all to hotfoot it down to Chinatown and return with the goods. There are 2 main types of filling, the red bean paste and lotus paste with egg yolks. I am not so keen on the lotus paste and egg ones as I think it reminds me of my rather unsuccessful attempt to eat another stalwart of Chinese cuisine, a 1000 year old egg … erg …

The red bean paste one was delicious, the pastry is soft and biscuit like, the filling sweet and earthy and nutty all at the same time – the overall package is what I think we’d describe as “toothsome” … and it was reddish … so hence it kinda sorta looked like a blood moon.

5 comments:

Luis Gomez said...

Great post!

Sharon Anck said...

I bet that was very tasty. I wonder if I could find such an item here somewhere. When I was in California last month I found a Japanese sweet shop and came back to the condo with all kinds of delicious treats.

William Kendall said...

This is the first I've heard of moon cakes. I wonder if our Chinatown shops would have them.

Jack said...

Thank you for the most informative post, Ted. And thank you also for the word "toothsome," a word I rarely -- if ever -- use.

Bunty Twinset said...

Having been in Scotland during said event and having got up at 3am (there was a clear sky) AND having taken a telescope, I can tell you that: 1) it's not sensible to set up a telescope 10mins before an astronomical event; 2) it's not sensible to get up at 3am and 3) it's not sensible to do (1) or (2) after too much G&T. Needless to say I missed it! However the 8pm moon looked stunning...

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