We're Nate Tate and Mary Kate Tate, a brother and sister cookbook author team obsessed with all things China. We create authentic and accessible Chinese recipes for home cooks. See more...

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Shanghai: To-Go

A three hour train ride and we're once again surrounded by the frenetic pace of modern urban life: Shanghai is a central port city where East meets West.  In the 1930s it was referred to as the "whore of Asia" because it openly catered to the light walleted Westerner fixed on self-indulgence.  However, despite her troublesome past, Shanghai has become a bustling economic zone with a mind of her own.
I have to admit I didn't want to come here. In all my travels around China, I managed to avoid it... until now. I'd heard Shanghai described as "a dull American city," or worse, "a dirty souless city."  Some went as far as to liken it to my beloved New York city (which I highly doubted).  However, as soon as we arrived, my preconceived notions of Shanghai went right out the absurdly clean taxi's window.

Yes, there is the dirty downtown with skyscrapers and traffic. Yes, the pollution is horrible and its inhabitants thrive on materialism. But like New York (yes, I'm making the comparison) it also has several neighborhoods with charming architecture, community gardens, and sidewalk cafes.
People here seem to smile more than in other cities in China.  They walk down the street, hand in hand, with perfectly coiffed dog in tow. Anyone I stopped on the street was more than happy to help with directions and my oddball status as a big-nosed white guy was gone.   
Like any other large city, the food culture is one of eating out. Restaurants are everywhere and most offer food to-go. The big fast food chains are all here- McDonalds, KFC, Häagen-Dazs ,TGI Fridays, and Starbucks. But while those seem to be very popular, the day to day source of meals are the little take-out stalls that line the streets. Throughout the day, people line out front and wait for hot dishes to be served up.


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Reader Comments (7)

great job. keep it up.
June 6, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRick
This looks amazing, Nate! Have a wonderful trip -- I will check back frequently :) We miss ya in new york!
June 7, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteryp
I'm at work right now...ironically enough, we're ordering chinese food for lunch...i'm going to tackle the Youtiao recipe this weekend...btw, i'm enjoying the posts...
June 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel
Nathan/Mary Catherine,Enjoy reading you stories. Sounds like you are having fun. Love the pictures too.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBill Kohler
love the blog! Sounds like you're off to a good start. Praying for you lots! Miss you, :)
June 9, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterj_to
Wow! great commentary on china, i am starting to want to go back. p.s. you were right about new york, everyone should live here at some point ;)
June 9, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

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November 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbqpmor bqpmor

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