Monday, March 31, 2014

TWO YEARS IN SHANGHAI

Can't believe two years has gone since we first arrived here as newbies to Shanghai life. We have spent two wonderful years, challenging at times, but the good times have made up for all of the frustrations we have encountered.

As way of celebrating we decided to invite my husbands team at work for an all British meal at our home. Well, we have been subjected to all sorts of Chinese delicacies, now it was their turn to be eating outside their comfort zone. There was to be 12 of us altogether but a baby on the way and 2 illnesses meant we were done to 9. So I was going to be busy!

This would be fun. I put together a menu which wouldn't challenge them too much. I would serve, Scotch Eggs with Pork and Black Pudding Coating, Haggis Spring Rolls, Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Discs, Fish Pie with Potato topping, Cock-a-Leekie Soup, Smoked Salmon and Salmon Pate with Blinis and Vegetables, Peas, Carrots and Asparagus, all very British.



For dessert I decided to make Pavlova with Strawberries and Mulberries and a Tiramisu. I've made these so many times I knew it would leave more time to concentrate on the main dishes.



I would serve it Chinese style. I wanted them to feel comfortable, and I knew the menu would be challenging enough. Chinese Style simply means all the dishes on the table at once. A challenge for me! I also set the table with chopsticks and cutlery giving them the option. They all used the chopsticks. 



Everything went well. The food was consumed with gusto I'm happy to report. A few beers, bottles of wine and a whisky or two completed a wonderful evening. I was so happy to see that they were a) willing to try my food and b) that they also enjoyed it. There was lots of laughing and lots of fun I think we all had a good time. As I always say, good food, good wine and good people around a table is one of life's big pleasures. Every culture has this in common.


These people have made our time here a great one, they work hard and enjoy what they are doing. They have made me feel part of the team and I am very grateful for that. Now they like my cooking and have asked if I will cook them an Indian dinner next. Chinese are not backwards at coming forward, lol. I will be delighted to do this at some point.

I have had requests for recipes, the fish pie was a huge hit, and also a confession that they had considered eating before they came as they didn't know if they would like what I was serving. At least they were honest.

I look forward now until the next time we do this and to another year here in Shanghai. 
Life is good. 



Thursday, March 13, 2014

SUNSHINE COMES to SHANGHAI

On one of the first really sunny Spring days of the year my husband and I decided to take a ferry ride across the river and enjoy a Sunday afternoon wandering around the city. So having spent 40rmb, or a whole 4p on two tickets, and spent less than 5 minutes on the ferry, we were soon at our starting point.

It was immediately obvious that most of Shanghai had the same idea and the roads and streets were packed with people out for a stroll. Spring it seemed had brought people outdoors in much the same way it causes flowers to bloom.


As always there is something to see at every turn. People playing cards in the streets, impromptu food vendors and of course washing strung out on any available space, usually a tree or handy railing, no problem that it is along the side of a busy road. I am not really sure how clean it will be by the end of the day!

  


As we were close to the fabric and bric-a-brac markets it was not long before I spied a lace stand. Then I realised there was not only one but lots of them lining the street. Shoes, sunglasses, cutlery, meat, fish, almost anything you could think of was somewhere out there to be bought.


On turning a corner I realised how in the midst of all that is exciting and different there was a piece of home before me. Yes Tesco in Shanghai. However, I do hope Shanghai doesn't become another city which losses it's identity to big world corporations. I know it is inevitable that they will move in but I do hope when shopping here I am still able to recognise that I am somewhere different, somewhere still full of surprises.

Will these ever change so I know where I am? lol. Maybe this is one case where I'd like to think English translations could be written alongside. 



It was so nice to be out walking. I spend lot of time being driven around and always promise myself I'll walk more but for various reasons this doesn't always happen. In summer it's too hot, and I find I walk even less! So this really is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the city on foot.

When it was time to make our way back across the river we stood on the Bund, Puxi side or west of the river, before heading back to Pudong, or as you've probably guessed, East of the river. From here we were able to take in one of the most amazing views, and probably the most recognisable view of the city. Before us lies what will be the 2nd highest building in the world when it is completed at the end of the year. On completion it will be almost exactly twice the height of The Shard in London. Quite a height!



So before the heat of summer arrives I plan to walk more, to see more of the city on foot instead of always driving past in the car thinking, I'd like to see that. I will endeavour to see more.