By: Taylor Hoang – Ethnic Seattle

September 21, 2015

One of my favorite times of the year in the Pacific Northwest is fall—the cooler air invites you to bundle up in cozy sweaters and comfortable boots provide reprieve from strappy sandals.  It is a time to enjoy a warm cup of tea and inhale biting early morning mists.  For many Vietnamese and Chinese, fall is also a time to celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the year, the Fall Moon Harvest Festival.

moon cakes 2Living in Vietnam as a young child, I remembered the moon cakes we would receive in the shape of a pig, which in Chinese culture signifies wealth.  We would get to pick out different animal lantern shapes at the market that would be lit at night and we would walk door to door asking for goodies.  This childhood tradition is not very different from the Hallows Eve celebration here in the US.  Today, that distant memory is a nice reminder of the importance of tradition, cultural significance, and keeping that remembrance alive so many other generations can enjoy and keep as their own.  It gives me such pleasure to see the full stacks of moon cakes, fruit candies, and flowers on display when I visit grocery stores such as Viet Wah in Little Saigon, Uwajimaya in Chinatown-ID, and Ba Mien Seafood in Rainier Valley—all preparing for the holiday.

Lien Dang of Huong Binh Restaurant has taken it further by making her own moon cakes, just walk past her restaurant and you are engulfed in aromas of caramel, lime leaves, ginger, and candied nuts, all essential moon cake ingredients.  It’s hard to pass by without stopping and taking a bite of the offered sample.

The Harvest Moon Festival celebrates the end of harvest season, essential around the time of a full moon to ensure sufficient light in the night to gather with families and visit with friends.  In Seattle the light of the moon is not needed, but there are plenty of moon cakes around town to purchase and share with family and friends over a cup of tea and good memories.