“The people in the club took good care of us,” says Liang.
So after some discussion, they called on other members of the P.E.I. Chinese community to help them organize a mid-autumn festival for Rotary Club members and their partners at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown this past Saturday.
“In China, we celebrate it as a family reunion. People come back home to meet their parents, relatives and friends and have dinner together,” says Liang.
His wife agrees.
“It’s like Old Home Week,” says Katie Zhu, pointing to a table filled with appetizers, fruit and desserts, prepared by community members.
Besides a buffet meal, the event included a PowerPoint presentation on the Chinese Lunar Festival, held this month, music by William Yao and Sunny Wang and a presentation on making of mooncakes and dumplings.
Chinese dumplings, eaten as appetizers or served as part of a main meal, are made of ground beef, chopped carrots and onions, oil and soya sauce, wrapped into a piece of pastry. They are then fried until golden brown.
Mooncakes are round baked desserts that are eaten during the mid-autumn festival for good luck. They are made by stretching a thin circle of pastry over a ball of nut filling and stuffing it into a moon cake mold, which pulls everything together and gives it a pretty design before they go into the oven.
Watching as simple ingredients are turned into pretty pieces of edible art impresses Barry Maze.
"By sampling mooncakes and dumplings, the event is a great opportunity to experience Chinese culture and meet members of the Chinese community,” says the Rotarian.
After a food preparation demonstration, guests are invited to try their hand. Barb Rhodenhizer is one of the first to get into the act at the mooncake counter.
“It was a lovely thing for them to do, to share some of their traditions with us. Everyone was so welcoming and gracious, even though we were a little inept, at first, at making them…. I pounded that thing down,” says Rhodenhizer, with a laugh.
Watching Rotarians and their partners take up the cultural challenge pleases community member Sean Wang.
“It’s very interesting to see (Canadian) people make traditional Chinese food,” he smiles.
And, for Liang and his two friends, it’s an afternoon of appreciation.
“We came here as immigrants (four years ago), and the local community gave us a chance to settle down. We brought our kids, and they are now receiving an education,” he says.
“The local people are very friendly, and we’re so grateful. And to say thank you, we wanted to organize the event.”
5 facts about moon festival
1 - A mooncake is a traditional Chinese pastry made from wheat flour and sweet stuffing, such as sugar and lotus seed powder.
2 - It's a symbol of family reunion, and the cake is traditionally cut into pieces that equal the number of people in the family.
3 - In Chinese beliefs, the full moon is the symbol for a family reunion and many famous ancient poets wrote poems about the moon and expressed their homesickness. When people look at the moon, it reminds them of their families and homeland.
4 - After dinner, every family will put a table outside the door, or in the courtyard. They put mooncakes, fruit, incense, and candlesticks on the table, facing toward the moon.
5 - The tradition is disappearing. It's rare to see families worshiping the moon in big cities. In some old towns or tourist cities, people will hold a ceremony to worship the moon in a square, park, or street, but this is more like a performance