When we first arrived in China in 2011, there was little in the way of Christmas decorations in Shanghai apart from the occasional display in a large shopping centre. Now Christmas decorations, gifts and cards are far more prevalent in shops and it feels like the importance of the celebration is growing amongst local culture.
Last Sunday we decided that it was time that we took a trip to the Hong Qiao Bird and Flower market to get our Christmas tree. The market not only sells birds and flowers, but also beautiful traditional Chinese pottery, furniture, jewellery as well as kitchenware, and of course, lots and lots of Christmas stuff!
On Sunday evening, Ross and I had a rare night out together and we went on the Untour Food Tour to finally try the Shanghai hairy crab. We started off in small restaurant called Linlongfang 麟笼坊 that specializes in xiaolongbao 小笼包. We tried several different varieties of the soup dumplings that contained a mixture of pork meat, crab meat and salted egg yolk. You eat xiaolongbao with vinegar and ginger, and they are by far my most favourite Chinese food.
Next, we went to a big restaurant called Kong Yi Ji 孔乙己 for the main event. The restaurant was originally within the old city walls and the outside was beautifully decorated with lanterns. There were also big pots outside the restaurant that are used to store the famous Shaoxing 绍兴酒 wine that is drunk alongside the hairy crabs. Inside, there were many traditional paintings and decorations, and even a replica rock garden that was made out of pieces of ginger! Our table upstairs was pre-prepared with a sampling range of Shaoxing wines laid out for each person, and a tray of uncooked hairy crabs ready for inspection. The crabs looked healthy (apparently!) and while they were being cooked we were brought various other delicious dishes; lion's head meatballs, crab roe with custard, crab roe wontons, crab roe fried dumplings, stir-fried pea shoots and braised bamboo. When the cooked crabs turned up we were able to try one male and one female. We were taught how to open and eat them, again with a ginger and vinegar sauce, and they were delicious. I'm very glad to have finally tried this Chinese delicacy which was, to quote Moana, "crabulous!"
I have been teaching French and Spanish for 13 years. I qualified and started teaching in the UK, and I currently work at Shanghai Community International School, China. I have experience teaching GCSEs and IB DP and MYP. Find out more about me within these blog pages or below at Linked In.