Excerpt from an email and a question from a friend traveling to Asia for the first time, on business:
” In Shanghai, I have had tea eggs from our breakfast buffet almost everyÂ morning.Â In addition, I have tasted Fish Lip soup, Shanghai style dumplings, bamboo, and lots of other stuff I am not real sure what it was.Â I liked a lot of it, but not all of it.Â Also surprised we have not seen more rice and noodle dishes?”
My response was:
So fun to hear about your travels and food adventures. Yum!
I have spent limited time in Shanghai, but my experience as a traveler and guest is that rice and noodles are considered a “base,” peasant food or cheap fillers,Â so if you’re a visiting foreigner or dinner guest, you will be treated to mostly meat and seafood in larger, reputable restaurants. If you want white rice as an accompaniment, you often have to ask for it. As a main dish, you’ll have to specially order fried rice or a stir-fried noodle dish.Â It’s a demonstration of wealth, respect and generosity to provide meat dishes (more expensive) than fill you up on rice (cheap) or like giving you a big basket of white rolls here.
Chinese fried rice is typically different than what you get in the U.S., so order “chao fan” if you want to try it. It should be white, not brown-colored, and tasty with Chinese sausage and egg. Normally, fried rice is the “last dish” that comes out, almost like a formality, in banquets or pre-set meals. By this course, everyone is usually (and expected to be) stuffed!Â I’m a peasant food and street food lover, especially noodles, so try to seek out a noodle house for inexpensive stir-fried or noodle soups! (mi fen–rice noodles, tang mian – soup & noodles). Noodles also represent longevity so definitely have some on your birthday!
Shanghai is famous for it’s “xiao long bao” –little steamer buns (bao), so be sure to order that and variations ofÂ “buns” (tang bao – soupy buns), they are delicious! A few other regional specialties include West Lake Fish, Sweet & Sour Spareribs, Stewed Whole Duck
Enjoy and eat for me! 🙂