This article original appeared in Serious Eats.
This Sunday, people around the world will celebrate China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, or zhong qiu jie. As the last days of late summer fade and the leaves on the chestnut trees begin to turn a golden brown, families come together in the cool, crisp air to enjoy a feast under the glow of the full moon. Red lanterns strung with riddles dance in tree branches, while the sweet fragrance of osmanthus flowers wafts through the evening air.
If all that sounds dizzyingly picturesque, then you have the right idea.
The evening’s dishes emphasize the bounty of fall’s harvest—pumpkin, chestnuts, taro, persimmons, sweet potato, walnuts, and mushrooms figure centrally in most meals, along with traditional celebratory foods like crab, pork, and duck. Feasts also heavily feature round foods like mooncakes, a nod to the full moon’s representation of unity and togetherness for families. In addition to Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an important time for families to be reunited, much like Thanksgiving in the United States…