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A simple but pure festival tradition

By Ye Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-19 09:18

A simple but pure festival tradition

Cantonese egg yolk with white lotus paste mooncakes, made by China World Hotel in Beijing.

Yunnan mooncakes are becoming more popular in Beijing, as an alternative to Cantonese and Suzhou-style cakes. He's restaurant offers two most popular styles: Yunnan ham with sugar and pine nut, and rose jam mooncakes.

"The ham is salty, a good contrast to the sweetness of granulated sugar. Pine nut and honey makes the taste and aroma even better," He says.

Yunnan produces a large number of fresh edible flowers. Rose and jasmine are the two most commonly used flowers in mooncakes.

Wang Junjie says Cantonese style-mooncakes came to Beijing in 1988. The style uses syrup, oil to make the dough and a mold to shape it and make beautiful patterns. The soft mooncakes have quickly become a hit in the capital.

Crispy Suzhou-style mooncakes from Jiangsu province entered the Beijing market around 2000. Since then, all kinds of styles of mooncakes have come to the capital.

Chefs are now using Western ingredients and cooking methods to make mooncakes. China World Hotel makes a charcoal-baked moon cake with truffle and bacon stuffing. The hotel's Sweet Spot dessert shops make a moon cake mousse.

Over the years, people's tastes have changed, and because people now eat more meat and oil, they prefer less sugar in mooncakes. "To cater to people's tastes, there are now more and more low-sugar mooncakes, and cakes made with natural ingredients such as coarse food grain," Wang says.

Sending mooncakes as a gift for Mid-Autumn Festival has become a popular trend in the last few years. Some even attribute the worse-than-usual traffic jams before the festival to people rushing to mail mooncakes. Mooncakes are often over-packaged, sometimes to the extent that people wonder whether the packaging costs more than the cakes.

This year, the Chinese central government banned government officials from using public funds to ship mooncakes. Chef Wang Junjie says he expects mooncakes to be cheaper, and more similar to how they used to taste. He says the classic combinations - mashed bean, mashed jujube, lotus paste and five nuts - still taste the best.

"If they are too luxurious, it loses the meaning of a festival," he says. "After all, it is still the old tastes people like best."

A simple but pure festival tradition

A simple but pure festival tradition

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