Mooncakes and the Mid-Autumn Festival

September 20, 2021

The moon is full around mid-September to early October (specifically, the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar) – so it’s the  Mid-Autumn Festival!  It’s the equivalent of Easter, the second-biggest festival of the year. Restaurants close down for a few days prior, so International House can’t get takeaway, obliging me to eat at McDonalds.  However, there are mooncakes!  Here’s an article on this festival.

Below is a photo I took from my balcony looking west across the Xindian (新店, the “New Shops”) valley.  Yesterday I decided to walk down on the road that goes directly towards the two skyscrapers you can see, a little less than a kilometre by road, to eat and buy groceries. 

However,  there are no footpaths beside the road.  I walked on the road and retreated to a drainage ditch when motor-scooters and cars appeared.  

The road switchbacks through sub-tropical rainforest, giving spectacular views – even better than the photographs.

I reached the Xindian District.  This is a typical residential street just off the main road.

I discovered my cafe where I eat breakfast was closed.  Suddenly hungry, I went into a ubiquitous 7-11 to eat.  Unlike Australia, 7-11s in Taiwan serve quick meals.  I grabbed some food off the shelves and told the server to heat it.  This photo shows my meal before I started On top of the photo, there are coffee and dorayaki from Japan (dorayaki, pancakes filled with topping, is what Doraemon likes to eat).  Below right, the photo shows steamed dumplings;  below left, fried chicken and bacon on rice with vegetables.  The meal tasted somewhat artificial, but it was expensive – $AUS11 [$US8].  

After finishing my meal I went over to buy some mooncakes

Here is a photo of the front of a shop – inside there were also many mooncakes.  The young woman (in the photo below) spoke to me in Chinese, I think warning me about chicken in some of them – but my Chinese is rubbish, so I didn’t really understand. 

I bought two mooncakes. 

Both mooncakes were made with flaky pastry.  The smaller one had an egg inside, wrapped around with dark stuff. The other mooncake had a strange but delicious flavor; no egg, but all yellow stuff inside.  Both were delicious, but solid; two were definitely enough.  I had them with “3 Gems” tea from CoCo.

Then I walked through a traditional market.  It’s a narrow street lined with vendors on both sides.  The market is only in the morning, and closed Mondays and Tuesdays (though you can still walk through). It’s very crowded, although tn nearly two years I only encountered one other Western person at this market. 

Researching this webpage I discovered a YouTube walk-through of a different traditional market in Taipei, bigger but with the same types of shops:

The photo below gives you an idea of what it’s like at 11am on Sunday.  Beware that blue truck!  Not much clearance on either size rolling slowly up the narrow street.

There are stalls devoted to tofu – just tofu, arranged in various ways; as an equivalent, think of a cheese shop.

Cooking to go:

Fresh fish:

I purchased my groceries (some apples and mandarin oranges) at two stalls – the stall-holders seemed grateful to my custom.


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