Chopstick check-in

I have a few minutes of free internet here in Shanghai and decided to check in. The experience here has been very gratifying, especially in the culinary arena. At least 95 percent of my photos are of kabobs and tofu and scallion bread grilled on the street, various sea creatures, food markets, tables full of food, restaurants and teahouses, and funny English translations of what exactly it all is.

Eating Chinese food in the States, as most astute noshers know, is not much the same as sitting down to a Chinese family dinner or even going to a Chinese restaurant in China.

When I return home, I plan to try my hand at some of the Shanghainese dishes I’ve been eating, post a few recipes, and invite friends (dear readers in the D.C. area, be warned!) over for a Chinese dinner. But if you can’t wait for that, here are some ways you can eat like I’ve been eating for the past week:

– Arm yourself and your guests with only chopsticks and small ceramic bowls.

– Prepare part of the meal beforehand, but keep that part in the kitchen.

– When everyone is hungry and ready to eat, go out to the nearest market for 10 grocery bags full of fresh vegetables, fish, noodles, eggs, and perhaps a live chicken or two.

– Saute each of your fresh ingredients in a wok with plenty of peanut oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt.

– Begin eating each dish as it comes out of the kitchen, piping hot.

– Don’t be shy. Reach around people to grab a mouthful of the newest dish, pour yourself tea, pour other people tea, and spit out unwanted shells or bones right on the table (or, if you want to be more polite, in your ceramic bowl).

That is all! Until next time, happy New Year from Shanghai!

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