Overheard: a Cantonese conversation between mother and daughter during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Are you hungry?
Yes. What can we eat?
How about mooncake?
Yes, mooncake. It's good to eat!
Does the kid have a choice?
They are to the Chinese what hot-cross buns are to Christians at Easter, but mooncakes, the salty-sweet confection eaten for centuries during the Mid-Autumn Festival, are getting a modern makeover.
Traditional golden-brown mooncakes are made of heavy, sticky lotus-seed paste and contain whole egg-yolks in the middle.
Filling traditional versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Older variations are also made from red bean and green bean paste.
Served warm, they are heavy, laden with calories and at upwards of 300 dollars (38.5 US dollars) for a box of four, not cheap.
If that sounds appetising to you, knock yourself out.
Most Westerners react to their first bite with a predictable expression of dawning horror, followed by a desperate visual search for a place to spit out the morsel without being seen.
But as tastes and lifestyles have changed in Hong Kong and China, so have mooncakes.
As Western foods have taken a hold in Asia and people have become more aware of the health risks associated with sweet and fatty foods, mooncake bakers say they have moved away from the stodginess of the traditional treats towards lighter and healthier options.
As families prepare to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, among the treats they will be digging into will be coffee-flavoured mooncakes by US coffeeshop chain Starbucks and ice-cream versions by Haagen-Dazs.
1. On a lark, I tried a Starbucks mooncake last year and gagged on both its slimy texture and sugar overdose. It was inedible.
2. Ah, Haagen-Dazs: the cornerstone of a nutritious and healthy meal; lighter and healthier, like fresh fruit and vegetables!
Not wishing to lose out, Hong Kong brand Taipan created the Snowy mooncake, which is white, served cold and stuffed with unusual dainties such as mango, coconut and swallow's nest.
Others are filled with ham, assorted nuts, shark fins and even abalone.
The world-renowned Peninsular [sic] Hotel here has also got in on the act, making its own lighter egg-custard mooncakes that even appeal to Western tastes.
Custard? I'm repulsed just thinking about it. While they're at it, why not make versions in tapioca, head cheese, blood pudding and durian?
Mooncakes in all their forms may be more popular than ever, but I won't touch them.