Friday, September 28, 2012

Moon Festival

Sunday marks the date of the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival in China. The festival is held to honor the moon as well as the legend of Chang Er. One of the more popular versions of the story states that the earth once had ten suns circling over it, each taking its turn to illuminate the earth. One day, all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by an archer, Hou Yi, who shot down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. In order to save the people from her husband's rule, his wife, Chang Er, drank the elixir of life. After drinking it, she began floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his wife so much, he refused to shoot down the moon.

Later, the Moon Festival would gain additional significance. During the Yuan dynasty, China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty set out to coordinate a rebellion without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Baked into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty. 

Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend and are given as gifts prior to the start of the Moon Festival. Traditional moon cakes are filled with red bean or lotus seed paste and often with the yolk of a salted duck egg.
 The moon cakes we received from our housing complex were filled with traditional red bean paste, similar to the filling of the qingtuan (I liked the moon cakes much better though).

 Snowball was also a fan

 Matt's company gifted us with a more modern take on the moon cake

 Can you guess which version I preferred?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Snowball xuéxi Zhōngwén

This is what happens when I pay more attention to my Chinese homework than I do my cat. She simply sits on top of it. Or maybe she just wants to learn Mandarin too?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Peace Hotel

I recently had the pleasure of attending high tea in the Jasmine Room of the Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Originally callled the Cathay Hotel, the recently restored local was once the most glamorous hotel of 1930s Shanghai.

The art deco building was stunning in itself. Yet the real star of the day was definitely the high tea. We sipped endless cups of hot tea, noshed on finger sandwiches, and overindulged on sweet treats.


While not exactly cheap, I would high recommend the Peace Hotel's high tea to visitors of Shanghai. Just don't expect to eat dinner. Or even breakfast the next day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anatomy of A Street Cart

Noodles and pancakes aren't the only thing street vendors sell in Shanghai. They also sell pets.

And yes, chipmunks qualify as pets here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fear The Jalapeno

This weekend, Matthew and I were members of a team competing in Shanghai's annual chili cook-off. Though to be honest, we mostly provided moral support, and some tasty cornbread, since neither of us are beef eaters. Before I get into the meat of our weekend (yes, I went there), I first wanted to thank one of my sweet readers who approached me at the cook-off. Whether she knew it or not, when Anne-Marie asked if I was the writer of this blog, she totally made my day. I was so shocked to have someone other than a family member or friend mention reading my blog that I just stared at her for a moment. So thanks to Anne-Marie for making me feel like a little bit of a Shanghai celebrity (And feel free to check out her Shanghai adventures over on her blog as well. She provides a pretty funny look at teaching in China).

I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about chili or chili cook-offs for that matter. And this wasn't just any chili, it was Texas chili, a concept I was even more unfamiliar with. Apparently Texas chili is made entirely of meat and spices. Adding beans is a capital offense. And of course, our team consisted solely of expats hailing from New York and Ohio who had never even heard of Texas chili before.

This year, the cook-off was officially sanctioned by CASI, the Chili Appreciation Society International, which is apparently a big deal. This meant that the top three finishers qualified to attend CASI’s International Chili Championship held in Terlingua, Texas.

So how did our team, Jalapeno Dave's, do? With a third place finish, Dave will be off to Texas in November.

Monday, September 10, 2012


If there is one thing the Chinese know how to do well, it's napping.

On the sidewalk

 In an alley

 Or in Ikea (while using a fabric remnant as a blanket)

 Though I still think Snowball could teach them a thing or two.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sundays in September

For the past ten years of my life, I have spent nearly every Saturday throughout fall doing the same thing, watching college football. More specifically, watching my alma mater, Penn State, play football. Despite a rather rough year for us Nittany Lions, I was determined to still show my support from half way around the world. 


Thanks to the 12 hour time difference, the first game of the year kicked off at midnight Saturday in Shanghai. While I wasn't quite able to stay up for the end of that game, Matt and I did manage to make it to a local expat bar by 8AM Sunday morning to catch the Michigan-Alabama match up.


So while my Saturdays may no longer be filled with tailgates and football, at least now my Sundays are!
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