Chinese Moon Festival at Grandma’s

Moon-_mooncake

Some Grandmas are really good at making cookies and knitting you blankets. My Grandma is a competitive ballroom dancer, force-feeds me “Women’s Soup” (good for your ovaries), and lets out a content, slightly sinister chuckle after she belches (which is a lot).

This weekend, we celebrated Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which means time with Grandma and her unique style of Grandma cooking.

Moon-_soup

All dinners at Grandma’s start with some murky soup, filled with mysterious sticks, seeds, roots, and animal extremities. This one had a pork chop, chicken feet, ginseng, some fibrous root, pebbly fungi, and tons of other things that suposedly are good when I “have too much barbecue.” (Somehow she knew about my back-to-back meals at Dinosaur BBQ.) Sometimes she puts figs, dates, cordyceps, and vegetables in her soup, but those are different medicines for different purposes.

Moon-_choyMoon-_chicken_and_porkMoon-_okra

Here we have Kai-lan, or Chinese broccoli, with dried pork. Boiled freshly-slaughtered chicken with ginger garlic sauce and roast pork. And okra with minced pork and baby portabellos.

Moon-_sea_cucumber

Sea cucumbers with abalone, shiitake mushrooms, dried mussels and ginkgo nuts is a dish easy to dislike. The biggest thing for me is the sea cucumber. I don’t mind their cartilaginous texture. What weirds me out the most is knowing how they move underwater, like flying worms, but with no ground! I would include a YouTube link, but I cannot stand to even do the search.

Finally, we ended with a classic moon cake: rich lotus seed paste and salted duck egg encased in a molded pastry. Right about now all the mooncakes in Chinatown are being marked down 50%. But it’s better when you eat it when celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with Grandma and she says, in her loving, Grandmotherly way, “You’re pretty, but you’re too dark.”

That — along with Chinese food that’s a far cry from General Tso — is what makes my Moon Festival official.

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