Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Club Mooncake

Tonight is the Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Moon Festival. The harvest moon is at its largest, enabling farmers and workers to work by the moonlight if needed. The moon is gigantic in the sky, and it has been increasingly so for the last few days. For me and my family, it's that time of year for mooncakes. My mother called tonight to check on my choice for this year.
This year's pick.

A big SIGH.

What can I say, except that I should try to ignore the pretty decorations on the box and read the labels more carefully? Once again, I've failed to find the mooncake from my childhood. Ye olde mooncake eludes me again. This year it's partly through my own forgetfulness, as my parents had saved a very nice, expensive one made of lotus seed paste. Just like the ones of yore. But packing the car and Joey to get out of Connecticut caused me to lose sight of that mooncake.

Instead, I went to the local Asian grocery to buy a box. I should have been aware of something being a little off, to my slightly myopic childhood vision, when I saw a box of DURIAN mooncakes for sale. I should have slowed way down and looked at the side of the box:
Unexpected provenance. Caveat Emptor.
The mooncakes of my childhood used to come from Hong Kong, and as time went on, we proudly bought some of the mooncakes made in New York City. In the last ten years, we as a family have experimented with buying some of the mooncakes from China, and this is where we've run into the problems of diversity. Who would have guessed there were so many different kinds of mooncakes? And now, I managed to buy a box from Thailand (not that there's anything wrong with Thailand, as many ethnic Chinese folks live there) with a fruit/nut/1 egg yolk combo. Where is the lotus seed paste of my youth?

Currently holding up my laptop.

On the left is a box of mooncakes I bought in the recent past; these came from China, but there was still something missing. However, the pretty girls still dominate the scene. In fact, they seem rather modernized: the young woman at the bottom looks much more dissipated and disheveled than the usual fairy lady on these boxes. Hmmm. The fairy lady who lives in the moon, leaving earth for that perfect life up there, always seems to get updated to reflect the current model of Asian beauty. I think the lady at the bottom may have had a little too much fun up in the moon. It's said that life on the moon is perfection, in these stories. Maybe it also means they have the perfect mooncakes.

On the right below is a box of mooncakes with their attractive crusts. The different shapes suggest different fillings, of the sort I never dreamed of when I was a kid.

And for what it's worth, below is a very crummy picture of the moon tonight.

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