Eating according to tradition.

IMG_2414Last week-end we visited the quaint canal-side town of Zhujiajiao just west of Shanghai.  The kids loved watching the boats going up and down the canals.


IMG_2407..and sampling some of the specialities of this town such as steamed bamboo leaves stuffed with rice and pork  and malt sugar on sticks


..and dry-cured duck (well OK, we didn’t actually try this one….. but I will)

It got me to thinking that the food and cooking techniques vary greatly across China but there are (or at least ‘were‘ -because traditions are quickly being exchanged for a more ‘modern’ lifestyle)  common rules for eating:

  • Eat in moderation when hungry,
  • No snacking,
  • CHEW well,
  • Take pleasure,
  • Be mindful (present without distraction),
  • Massage the stomach after a meal (20xclockwise and 40x anticlockwise),
  • Walk after the meal (100 steps will take you to 100 years).
  • Eat according to seasons and eat locally
  • Don’t store foods – especially cut foods
  • Drink soup at the end of the meal
  • Aim to include all of the following tastes: sour, bitter, sweet, salty and spicy and consider the ‘nature’ of food of which their are five according to Traditional Chinese Medicine: hot, warm, neutral, cool and cold.

All pretty good guidelines for everyone 🙂

Below is a photo of the food (in it’s raw state) that is typically offered to the children at school every day.  Beats soggy sandwiches!


‘Shanghighs’: Strawberry season (in glass houses!) has started and I invited our driver Ben and his niece Anne to join us pick some this past week-end.  I wasn’t aware before but Anne’s parents return to Shanghai only once every two weeks as they are working in a clothing factory.  Anne’s parents want their daughter to stay in Shanghai with her grandparents in order to have her educated in the city – it’s all got to do with the hukou system.  The hukou is a household registration record officially identifying a person as a resident of an area, and whilst you can change your residential area, you will lose many rights such as the right to education.

Rain for 48 hours – not normally considered a ‘high’ but it helped clear the air.


‘Shanglows’: So husband Sebastien is still in Boston (kindly sending regular photos of the lobster he is eating) and will be working in Korea immediately upon his return so in order to be a family over Christmas we are off to Korea for 4 days. I’ll be taking a class in kimchi which you’re sure to hear about shortly.

‘Shanghunusuals’: Whilst still on the topic of food, I find a great contrast in the labeling and marketing of food here compared with most other countries.  Here rather than promote local produce, the salespeople are proud to announce that a product is imported.  This is probably not too surprising following some rather serious food quality scandals here in recent years.

Now even though Christmas is not officially celebrated over here there are some quite impressive Christmas decorations all over the city.


Not exactly sure why the kids are making those faces.

And I did manage to pick up a tree from the Hongqiao Flower Market (to the west of Downtown).  This market is like the other speciality markets in Shanghai where dozens of stores are packed into a space and sell pretty much the same things  – and where haggling is expected.  Below is a photo from the Art Market where I went last week but you can also find markets specializing in fabric, fake goods, insects, pearls……


Happy Christmas/Holidays to all.


2 comments on “Eating according to tradition.

  1. johnshess says:

    Crawfish ? You mean LOBSTERS ? Lucky Seb. He’ll have to tell this Boston native what Boston is like these days . . . How funny, locavorism is all the rage here in the West, try telling that to the Chinese. . . . In Vietnam people trust the meats and so on, but there is great concern about overuse of pesticides, and many people there now avoid eating vegetables from unknown sources, it’s really a pity.

    • Quite right – perhaps I should correct that? I don’t get to eat such fine fare you see.
      Your Christmas sounds like fun (apart from the ill bit).
      Bonne Annee
      ps. Where’s the next cocktail?

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