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Grandma May Ng with her grandson PenuelGrandma May Ng holds her great-grandson Penuel. (photo: Melody Ng)

I don’t know that I have ever paid much attention to the

legend behind the Moon Festival, but I sure love moon cakes. I haven’t bought them in years, because my grandmother always sends me a box of my favorite — lotus seed paste (a thousand times yummier than the usual red bean!) with one egg yolk per cake — from a good bakery in Los Angeles.

Last September, she gave me my box in person because I was in LA for my cousin’s wedding and spent a few days with her. I brought the moon cakes back to Minnesota, ate one right away, and gobbled up the second during the Moon Festival. The other two are still in my refrigerator. I haven’t been able to eat them.

My grandmother died last October, at the age of 96, just a couple weeks after the Moon Festival. Those two moon cakes are the last I’ll ever have from her — from her thoughtfulness and generosity. Seeing them each time I open the egg compartment where I stashed them makes me happy.

My husband says it’d be terrible to my grandmother to let them go bad. It’s true. She reused paper towels and never wasted food (and moon cakes are quite the luxury at $33 for a box of four). But I’m not sure moon cakes can go bad. In the past, I’ve kept them to savor over many months, and the ones my grandmother gave me a year ago still look just fine. That’s not a quality I’d want in most of the food I consume, but, with moon cakes — especially my two remaining moon cakes — I guess shelf-life longevity is just fine.

I’ll break out one to share with my two- and four-year-old tonight. They can recall memories of their Bak-Po, I’ll tell them some new stories, and we’ll talk about how she loved us so much that she’s providing us moon cakes, even when she’s no longer here with us.

And just in case the kids want more moon cakes, I’ll stop by the store on my way home today to get a new box before they’re gone for the year. Because my last moon cake’s staying in the fridge.


Melody NgMelody Ng lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is an analyst for APM’s Public Insight Network.

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4 Comments

As someone who carries a small candy wrapper in my purse, because is reminds me every time I see it of the person with whom I shared the candy years ago, I loved this story.  Here's to remembering and keeping the memories alive . . .

I love that photo, the way Penuel is yearning toward his grandmother, just facinated. Thank you for telling us the story of your grandmother's moon cakes. I just know that whenever you eat a moon cake, for the rest of your life, even when you are 96 yourself, you will be reminded of your grandmother's sweet love for you. Maybe when she ate one she thought of her grandmother's love and wanted you to have that, too.  I hope so. 

:)

..great work