Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Keyport Fishery of Shanghai

The scene is a familiar one. I'm hanging out with family on a hot summer day. I'm sitting on a bench chowing down on the local delicacy.

This time, however, I'm not down at the Jersey shore enjoying a flounder platter, looking out over the bay and the Manhattan skyline in the distance. Nope, this time I'm pondering Shanghai's juxtaposition of Imperial architecture and hyper-modern skyscrapers, all while being stared at by tourists from the provinces and devouring xiaolongbao after xiaolongbao.

Xiaolongbao is (are?) the food that Shanghai and this region of China are probably most well known for. Essentially, xiaolongbao are tiny dumplings filled with meat (usually pork). When they are steamed, the inside of the dumplings fill up with juice from the meat, making xiaolongbao mouth-watering in a literal sense. (It was easy to spot people who had just bitten into xiaolongbao that were too hot for their tastes. Just look for the pained grimace. It's a face I've made myself too many times to count.)

As different as these two foods and locations appear to be, there are lots of things that bind them together. Local flavor. Family. The outdoors. In a way, the world is looking smaller already. And we've only been here a week...



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