In the United States, summer time is the season for barbeques. And the holiday that is devoted to grilling food is the all-American, patriotic, Independence Day. Nothing to me is more American than searing meat over hot coals on the 4th of July. In Taiwan, BBQ season comes much later. The holiday where families gather around a charcoal grill flipping chicken wings, taro cakes, and porkkebabs, while wiping off beads of sweat and swatting away mosquitoes, is the Moon Festival, also called the Mid-Autumn Festival. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when the moon is at its brightest and fullest. This holiday is also celebrated in Vietnam and ethnic Chinese regions, but the practice of the celeration varies greatly. Like all other Taiwanese holidays, this day involves being with families and friends, and eating lots and lots of food. If eating were an Olympic sport, the Taiwanese would win the gold medal hands down.
When I lived in Taiwan as a child, the foods associated with the Moon Festival were moon cakes and pomelos. At some point in the past 20 years, however, this day had become all about barbeques. A few months before the Moon Festival, charcoals, lighter fluid, and grills dominate the discount aisles near the entrance of Carrefour, my local supermarket. While I love the smell and taste of seared meat cooked over an open flame, I sometime wish we could go back to the simpler times, like the times of my childhood; times when moon cakes were made by hand and didn’t have Hello Kitty on the crust.
When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, it was an enormous step for the history of mankind. For people