I love Shanghainese food!
Man, there is a lot of good stuff to eat here. Let's start with breakfast.
豆腐花(dou4fu4hua1) is a breakfast food, a kind of soft-tofu soup flavored with soy sauce, green onion, purple seaweed, and tiny shrimps. You can get it from a street vendor for amazingly cheap.
More cheap foods available from street vendors at breakfast time.
On the left, 生煎包(sheng1jian1bao1), dumplings with meat and soup broth inside. If you bite into them wrong, it will come squirting out. They're a relative of the more famous 小龙包 (xiao3long2bao1), also a shanghai specialty, shengjianbao are fried instead of steamed (which makes them a little more solid and easier to pick up without breaking.)
In the background is a strip of fried dough called 油条 (you2tiao2) and on the right is a fried rice-cake thing that tastes a little like a hash brown.
I am madly in love with shengjianbao. It's an effort of willpower not to buy them for every single meal.
Another typical breakfast is zhou1 - rice porridge. You can eat it flavored with a pickled root vegetable called za4cai4 and/or bits of salted egg (in packages, foreground).
This is the kitchen of our apartment. It's small, but perfectly functional.
We only have a few dishes, so we're forced to wash them after every meal in order to use them again. It's kind of nice, actually, never being able to let the dishes pile up.
There's a farmer's market right across the street with fresh vegetables and meat for unbelievably cheap. We can just hop over before a meal and buy what we need.
Here's a meal we cooked with stuff from the farmer's market. We stir-fried some squid with green peppers, pork with "mountain potato", and silk melon with 茭白 (jiao4bai2). Jiaobai is a stem vegetable and another Shanghai speciality. It's bland but pleasantly crunchy and works well in a variety of dishes.
(...aaand I just looked it up and found out it's actually the fungus-infested stem of a wild rice plant. What??)
粽子 (zong1zi) are tetrahedral clumps of sticky-rice with various fillings, steamed inside bamboo-leaf wrappings.
They're traditionally eaten at Dragon-Boat Festival time but they can pop up anywhere and anytime.
Sushu's uncle often invites us over to his side of the apartment building for dinner.
Like Sushu, and Sushu's dad, and seemingly everybody in Sushu's family, he is very good at cooking!
This dinner spread shows off some more Shanghai specialities like shrimp and 臭豆腐 (chou4dou4fu, "stinky tofu").
There's also Western food available in Shanghai, of course.
...and weird variations on Western food. This here is sold as "chocolate cheese". It's kind of like chocolate cream cheese I guess? Not nearly as gross as it could have been.
Random fact about Western food in China: A hamburger is called 汉堡抱 (han4bao3bao1). The character used to write "Han" is the name of the Han dynasty.
It's a purely phonetic choice obviously, but every time I see that on a menu I think "mmm, delicious Han Dynasty burgers."
was surprised to find that, far from finding "Kung Fu Panda" insulting and stereotypical, Chinese people seem to like it a lot. Enough to use it in merchandising snack foods, even.
On the bottom you can see some of the weird flavors of Oreos they sell in China, like peach-and-grape flavor.
A Sichuan-style 火锅 (huo3guo2, "fire pot") place opened up just a block away from the apartment. They bring you raw stuff and you swish it around in boiling soup broth until it's ready to eat. It was pretty fantastic.
It's hard to see in the photo, but there is literally a jet of fire shooting out the top of the pot there.
Opera masks decorating the walls of the Sichuan place.
Also on the wall at the Sichuan place: "No Japanese people allowed" sign.
A fancy meal at a high-class restaurant famous for duck. Had some very interesting delicacies here:
Duck meat inside duck-shaped pastries (left)
A giant meatball called a "Lion's head" (foreground)
A pitcher of warm corn juice (middle of the table).
And the expected fare such as Bejing Duck.
Duck tongues look terrifying. They look like I should be able to select them and tell them to mutate into Banelings.