Or should I say, seize the mooncake . . . This week, Mr. Noodle and I shared a single, solitary mooncake in celebration of the Mid Autumn Festival. The paltriness of our pastry was not for lack of trying: we had planned to feast on a quartet of these hefty traditional treats, carefully carried all the way back to Minnesota from Malaysia. But they were no match for the determined vigilance of the United States Customs and Border Protection agency, and its bureaucratic fears about avian flu.
|Petronas Towers illuminated|
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
How I wish we'd eaten them as soon as possible! Little did we know that our choice of mooncake fillings - specifically, those with salted duck egg yolks in the center - would be crustulum non grata (unwelcome pastry) in the eyes of U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Upon our arrival at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, we declared the edible souvenirs from our Asia travels on the required customs form and were promptly directed to an agricultural inspection section. There, an agent briskly, though not unkindly, quizzed us on what foods we had packed, asking specifically about pork products. Nothing porcine, I assured her, just some Filipino cookies, candies and coffee, and a box of mooncakes. Uh-oh . . .
Is This Some Kind of a Sick Yolk?
|One is the loneliest number...|
In short order, our bags were sent through the x-ray machine, opened up for inspection (note to self: pack neatly for the return home, too), and our precious box of mooncakes extracted. Before we could protest, all but one of the pastries were unceremoniously dumped into a large garbage bin that undoubtedly contained even more of these confiscated confections. The reason for such a merciless seizure? Unless they have been mixed directly into the batter, egg yolks in mooncakes from countries with outbreaks of avian flu are considered 'agricultural hazards' and are therefore prohibited from entering the United States.
The irony is that on the same day we enjoyed the lone non-yolked mooncake survivor, a congressional panel on the recent nationwide outbreak of salmonella illnesses from tainted eggs heard abject apologies from one of the country's largest egg producers for his company's role in causing the health emergency, while the president of another agribusiness invoked his 5th Amendment right and refused to answer any questions. It would seem that there is a more immediate danger from egg yolks found closer to home than from baked pastry that has traveled halfway across the world.
But this is cold comfort - the mooncakes are now long gone and the experience of eating them lost. We would simply have to wait until the next opportunity to be in Asia during the Mid Autumn Festival, when mooncakes are as abundant as stars. And as our lucky stars would have it, that opportunity has come sooner than expected . . .
|Lone survivor: White Lotus & Black Sesame Mooncake|
|'Internet Café Now Open'? Hmmm...|
My dear friends, I am pleased to announce that the Noodles are moving to a new bowl - Manila, Philippines! We are so thrilled about this fresh chapter in our story. Although I was born in metro Manila, I have spent most of my life in North America, so life in the Philippines will be as new and unfamiliar to me as it will be for my Midwestern husband. But we look forward to meeting the challenge together with excitement and enthusiasm.
There is little time for relaxed transition, however, as our relocation will take place in less than 6 weeks. As a result, I may not be posting as often as I'd like while my energies are focused on packing up our belongings and getting ready for our move. I hope to put up some entries that are already in the pipeline, although they may not be as detailed (read: long-winded) as my usual posts, as well as to share some details about my new old home.
As I bring Tangled Noodle back to my birthplace, please join me in a rediscovery of my cultural heritage, a deeper exploration of a beloved, vibrant cuisine and the hope of creativity inspired by new and delicious adventures!
Here's a sneak preview . . .
|While Makati City, Metro Manila shimmers beneath the clouds . . .|
|. . . El Nido, Palawan shines under blue skies.|