Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important festivals in Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. It is traditionally a time to give thanks for thriving crops, livestock and children. Chinese myths tell a story of Chang'e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality, who is also honored on this day. The festival is also commonly known as the Mooncake Festival because mooncakes are given and eaten in celebration with friends and family. Pickle was gifted a mooncake from one of his advisees, and we were excited to share it this evening in recognition of Mid-Autumn Festival.
While there are endless modern styles, with varying designs, crusts and fillings, ours was a traditional mooncake, with a lotus seed paste filling and salted duck egg yolk in the middle. The yolk represents the full moon. We ate it with Chinese tea, and the saltiness of the yolk and sweetness of the lotus seed paste complimented one another perfectly. We were grateful for the gift and the opportunity to try something new. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Today (well yesterday in Sydney, but today in the U.S.) is my super awesome dad's birthday. He's been riding around the sun on this planet for 60 years now! Pickle and I busted out our axes to shoot a special happy b-day message for him on this momentous occasion. Since I don't really know how to play my uke very well yet (and because it sounds like I'm tone deaf when I sing), we shot a LOT of takes...unfortunately, the best one came after the camera shut itself off (yes, even my camera was over it), so I just used the best of what we had, which was still pretty pitiful. I don't think my dad will mind...while I likely have my mom to thank for my terrible singing voice, he's no Pavarotti himself (and I think he'd rather laugh at me than hear me sing well anyway). Hope you're having a funtastic, pecan pie-filled b-day, dad! Love you!
We've also hopped on board the coloring book fad this week. It was actually Pickle's idea, and it's been fun. I've found that I enjoy it a lot, but am working to appreciate it more as a journey and not a destination...once I start coloring, I'm pretty eager to get to a finished product, so I work on it longer than I find relaxing (which is prooooobably a bit counterproductive to the whole therapeutic intent of the activity). Still, it's more zen than writing a dissertation (perhaps not though...I've really seemed to embrace the whole "don't rush to the destination" perspective with that endeavor!). Pickle has started two pages and is going to start a third, but hasn't completed any (he's embracing the process).
We were at work yesterday when Pickle came over and gestured for me to follow him to the back entrance to our office (he was on a phone meeting at the time). I followed him through the kitchenette to find this guy peeking in the back window…
In my excitement to grab my mobile and document our visitor, I locked myself out of our swipecard-entry building. I explained to the kind colleague who let me back in what I was doing and inquired about the blue-tongued lizard. She assured me they are harmless and usually pretty shy...turns out the squirrels at the uni where I worked in the U.S. are much more aggressive than the large lizards of my present campus.
We had BEAUTIFUL weather this Saturday, so we headed out and about to Darling Harbour.
It was the first of the 2-day Sydney Taiwan Festival. There were cultural dance performances, art from local school children, Taiwanese puppets and crafts...
Some of the highlights for us, of course, were the cultural culinary options...nothing too unique, but mostly tasty fare. We had cane juice, tofu and mushroom, sticky rice balls (with the sesame seeds on the outside and adzuki beans on the inside...always my favorite), taro pearl milk tea, Taiwanese pork sausage and takoyaki.
My favorite part was seeing the takoyaki being made. I'd eaten it several times before, but never thought about how it was prepared...it's a pretty cool process to watch the skilled cooks deftly wielding their chopsticks as they seemingly magically whip a puddle of batter and squid into a golden ball of deliciousness. I should have shot a video (we used Pickle's phone again, as I left my camera in my office at the campus furthest from us), but it took quite awhile for the whole process to play out. I found a quick one on YouTube that explains the process...
The sunshine turned to rain today, so I'm glad to have made it out for a beautiful Saturday afternoon, though I don't mind a good lazy, rainy Sunday either ;)