I know I keep saying over and over again that I'm going to write blog posts about how much I love China (which I do, seriously), but then in reality I always actually end up writing blog posts which sort of sound like I'm making fun of China even though I SWEAR I'M NOT.
This is another one of those blog posts, of course. And this is probably a great time to remind everyone that the United States does NOT write this blog and does NOT authorize this blog's content and would actually probably run screaming from this blog if given the opportunity.
We clear? Okay. Moving on.
So next week here in China is some sort of really long holiday, which is like YAY! because of course my husband is supposed to be off for it (operative phrase: "supposed to." In reality, we shall see.). This is because when you're serving overseas (theoretically) you get to take off both the major American holidays AND the local country's major holidays, so BONUS!
So, anyway, the major Chinese holiday around here next week is something about Autumn or Harvest or whatever and it's a super major big deal sort of like, I don't know, Christmas and Thanksgiving all wrapped up in one. It goes ALL WEEK LONG, which is not at all American, because in America we get an official day off every few months for random this or that, but never anything like a whole week off all at one time. I'm telling you - China knows how to party.
The problem, of course, is that when they party they do all sorts of things that I don't understand because, of course, I'm a white bread American girl and we don't have stuff back in the United States like this:
Which are called "Moon Cakes," and which are the major celebratory holiday fare of the region. So much so that the tiny little bakery where we buy our sandwich bread had a HUGE truck back up to their teensy little front door and unload so many boxes of professionally-made Moon Cakes that the boxes stacked up to their ceiling all over the store. Seriously.
To me, Moon Cakes taste pretty disgusting. I mean, no offense, Chinese people, I totally respect how even your sugary treats aren't sugary, which is why all of y'all are the opposite of obese Americana, but really now- desserts made out of smashed beans and whole hard boiled egg yolks just wouldn't go over well in the U.S. on major holidays. Or even minor ones.
And you, Dear Reader, would probably surmise that since China as a whole is obviously free to enjoy eating whatever its little heart desires on its own major holidays, that if Moon Cakes are such a big deal that they're basically like egg nog and Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie and Christmas green bean casserole all all wrapped up in one, then China can just have at it and this wouldn't affect me. You'd think that it's Not My Problem, right?
But you'd be WRONG.
Moon Cakes ARE my problem. THEY ARE **SO** MY PROBLEM. This is because I'm an employer, you guys. I employ an ayi. And employers are supposed to buy their employees Moon Cakes for the holiday.
Now, my ayi (pronounced like the letters i.e.) is the most wonderful creature on the entire earth. The sun rises and sets at her feet. I worship the ground she walks on. And here in China, like I said, employers are supposed to buy Moon Cakes for their employees. It's just What's Done. It's like back in the Charles Dickens days when Scrooge was supposed to buy the Christmas duck or turkey or goose or whatever for the Bob Cratchit family. IT'S WHAT'S DONE.
Except my ayi won't let me buy her Moon Cakes. Every time I try to broach the topic, she wigs out. Sort of like when I tried to buy her daughter a store-made birthday cake for her birthday. Wigged out seven ways to Sunday. NO, she doesn't want Moon Cakes, NO, don't buy them for her, NO, her husband's employer already bought some for their family, NO, it's not up for discussion, NO NO NO NO NO.
And then, the next day, when I even brought a Moon Cake catalog home from the bakery, showing the zillions of different kinds of Moon Cake packages for sale and asking if she'd like to pick one out, she lept away from the catalog like it was a venemous snake trying to bite her, and continued with the NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! thing.
And I would totally up and buy her Moon Cakes anyway, even though she freaks out at the thought of it and tells me NO NO NO NO NO, except for you don't really do stuff like that here in China because then people get offended. The "face" thing. It's big here. Does it include Moon Cakes purchases? I have no idea. I'M NOT CHINESE. I DON'T KNOW THESE THINGS.
So now I'm all freaked out because I feel like no matter what I do I'm a horrible boss. Who knew that a dessert that isn't really dessert-y that tastes disgusting and contains hard boiled eggs and mashed up beans could be SO MUCH FREAKING TROUBLE?
So, anyway, I'm not going to buy the Moon Cakes. And I'm going to feel like I've gotten lost somewhere between here and there (here being: "The employer is supposed to buy the Moon Cakes," and there being: "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!"), and I'm sort of damned if I do and damned if I don't.
And lest you think I'm some sort of horrible person (which I am but not over this, at least not intentionally), I will tell you that if I thought that there was any way I could buy them without offending or horrifying her, I would do it in a heartbeat. And also, she actually said that Moon Cakes don't taste that great. Which maybe makes them more like, I don't know, the Chinese version of fruitcake except made out of beans and hard boiled eggs.
Which may actually improve fruitcake, come to think of it.