Sunday, September 27, 2015

Part 2: Autumn in Singapore: Of Haze and Mooncakes

So yesterday I shared the less-pleasant side of autumn in Singapore... now let me get to the good stuff. 

The really, really good stuff.

The sweet treat that equates the caloric intake of a full day's worth of meals...

The Mooncake.

You may remember my mentioning mooncakes during my very first semester in Singapore. Well, I'm pleased to tell you that I have become something of an expert in these particular desserts since that time, if expert status can be gleaned from just eating a whole lot of something. 

Mooncakes are served as a traditional treat during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The most traditional of mooncakes, seen here, is a baked pastry shell containing the rich, densely caloric lotus seed paste scattered with melon seeds, packed around a salted egg yolk. It sounds strange, but it is at once smooth and nutty and sweet and rich with just a hint of salt.

It is, in short, incredible.

Mooncakes are not cheap, either. This one, pictured above, was one of the most reasonably priced ones at SGD$8.50 ($5.95 USD). They can work their way up to nearly $50 a cake... or more. Over time, the mooncake has been modernized and riffed and created and recreated, all with delectable results. This Saturday, a new colleague friend and I ventured down Orchard to a vendor fair which was like Mooncake Heaven:

And the best part? FREE SAMPLES.

And it wasn't like free samples in an ice cream shop, where you feel
self-conscious and slightly guilty for asking. Here, vendors pushed samples upon you - before you can speak, toothpick-speared chunks of mooncake are being shoved into your hands, and the vendor is excitedly telling you about this particular variety or that one. There WAS great variety. Snowskin mooncakes, which are named for the frosty appearance and cold temperature of the skin, are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Some mooncakes were dusted in edible gold, while others packed a punch of a vodka- or gin-infused center. Still others contained dried fruit, nuts, or more, er, surprising elements... "What is that... other flavor I'm getting?" "Barbecued chicken, miss!" It was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the taste buds.

It was great fun, and I felt very much like a child that had been turned loose on a bag of Halloween candy with no parental supervision. Finally, my own stomach slammed on the brakes, and I stated that if I didn't get a bottle of water and non-sugar containing food in me soon, I was, in fact, going to die.

Perhaps I wouldn't have died, but I certainly was able to tell I had had enough...

Until later on that evening, when I remembered my purchases sitting innocently in the fridge...

Surely one little piece wouldn't hurt...


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