A Taste of Shanghai

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When I think about my food experiences so far, I had to start with Yang’s Dumplings. World famous, sizzling and ready do go within 5 minutes of ordering, a box of 4 dumplings is only 10-18 RMB. That’s £1-2. I keep going for the crayfish dumplings as I am trying to avoid red meat, but I think even the vegetable option contains some kind of meat. So far I have come across 3 or 4 of these restaurants, my favourite being the one that is about 5 minutes walk from the flat.

One great thing about China is how cheap the food is in supermarkets, takeaways and corner shops alike. White Rabbit seems to be a well known and very addictive milk-based sweet, which I was kindly given as a gift. I’ve also been eating a lot of ‘moon cakes’ (right photo), which are made as part of the celebration for the Mid-Autumn Festival. They can come with literally any filling, from fruit to meat. I have only tried this coconut variety which costs the equivalent of about 80p, as I don’t think I could stomach a meat cake!

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One morning, my very generous new friend Yolanda – who is born and bred Shanghainese – brought a traditional Chinese breakfast to the flat. It was really lovely, especially the dumplings (bottom left), but it did just feel like I was eating a Chinese takeaway for breakfast, which was a bit heavy! I feel so lucky I have a friend who has always lived around here and knows the culture so well.

One of my favourite meals so far has been my first authentic Chinese takeaway. I love love love Chinese takeaway at home, but everybody warned me that Chinese takeaway as we know it is nothing like the real thing in China. They were right, but not in a scary way (although there was chicken gristle on the menu), because the food was absolutely gorgeous and you could taste how fresh it was. The price was just a little cheaper than it would be in England, and totally worth it. I really liked the spicy calamari, chicken noodles and garlic broccoli, and have been craving these ever since.

Finally, probably my favourite meal so far since in China has ironically not been Chinese food. It’s been a traditional South African Braai (BBQ) cooked by Chris, my colleague’s husband. He also cooked us an amazing (although incredibly spicy) Thai green chicken curry from scratch, but this BBQ topped it. The best part was the cheese and potato bake, with seasoning all the way from South Africa. Of course I also enjoyed the giant punch bowl and the fact that we had our little braai party in one of the dance studios. A really perfect evening!

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