Learn how a small pastry like mooncakes can spark a great debate about its filling: Mung bean vs Mixed nuts.
Food wars seem to be a regular occurrence in every culture where people often debate their food preferences or show others how they prepare their food around the world. From ketchup versus mustard or whether pineapple belongs on pizza or not, these food wars aren’t going away anytime soon mainly because cuisine is an integral part that forms every civilization that we know of today.
Little do people know, these debates show a glimpse of their everyday life, their current social climate, and how vastly different our experiences are from each other in different parts of the world.
In Asian culture, they celebrate what is known as the Mid-autumn festival in the fall. Other names that can be used to describe this festival are Moon festival or Mooncake festival. People carry and display lanterns of many sizes and forms as beacons that illuminate their way to riches and good fortune. During this holiday, it is customary to consume mooncakes as they are a staple in the mid-autumn festival, a delicious pastry often filled with sweet bean, egg yolk, pork, or lotus seed paste. The history of Chang’e, the Moon goddess in Chinese mythology, serves as the foundation for the Mid-Autumn Festival. If you are looking for more mooncake options, check it out here.
One of the most popular fillings for mooncakes is mung bean flavor and mixed nuts flavor. In order to have an overview or a simple visualization of what they are like, let’s learn how they are made. Mung bean mooncakes are made with steamed mung beans; they are then mashed or pulverized and cooked again to achieve a better consistency.
Mixed Nuts mooncakes are made with candied winter melon, Chinese sausage, cashew nuts, candied orange peel, and candied ginger, mixed and formed into a filling. While there can be many different variations throughout the span of Asia depending on where you are from (Vietnam, China, Japan, etc.), overall these flavors can share some similarities throughout these cultures.
The debate starts when people were asked about what their favorite mooncake fillings are. Some people love the mung bean filling more due to their simplicity and how delicate the flavors are dancing on your palate; others love the complexity the mixed nuts filling brings with different flavors and sweetness combined to form the ultimate sensory experience.
One of the main complaints is the mixed nuts filling was too sweet due to its candied components, or how the flavors don’t necessarily compliment each other, and the overall texture was off. Another complaint about the mung bean filling is too basic, and unappealing compared to its colorful counterpart, and having a texture like clay was one of the reasons why the debate got so heated in the first place due to the different preferences people can have regarding their eating habits.
But why are people so passionate about this? Food or cuisine, in particular, plays an important role in our lives. We cannot survive without food or water because they are a necessity in our lives. With the combination of people who would not back down from expressing their own opinion and you will understand why things get so heated in the first place.
In the end, no matter what flavor of mooncake you love we can all agree that without the cultural significance we would not be here today. The great mooncake debate masks a bigger and more interesting issue that goes beyond the argument of which flavors of mooncake you prefer, but the interesting take is that not even the natives where this desert is consumed can come to a proper conclusion on which one is better.
In actuality, none of these flavors are better than the other, it all boils down to each individual preferences, eating habits, and diet. That being said, the most important thing is how we can come together as a whole and embrace each other differences.