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Travel Tales and Short Stories: Hairy Crab? Eating out in Shanghai

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by Nicholas Klar

A good Scots likes his wee bit 'o haggis. A Yorkshireman is partial to a serving of black pudding. There's even the Adelaidean special from my hometown - the meat pie floater (a meat pie floating in a pea soup with a liberal covering of tomato sauce). What I'm trying to say is that every region in the world has it's own particular cuisine, even if that cuisine extends to only a sloppy pie made from BSE free off-cuts slapped into a concoction of green and red muck.

Shanghai has it's own particular cuisine. It's just that,

1) I'm not quite sure what it is yet, and

2) If I did I'm not quite positive, at this stage anyway, if I'd want to consume it.

Actually they seem fairly crazy about a seasonal delicacy called 'Hairy Crab', which to me brings up connotations of a visit to the clinic by young, mostly single, people in the 1970's for reasons that I won't elaborate on now.

Taking all of this into account I decided that I should do some research, and what better place than the restaurant next door to my apartment block. This is a clean, efficient place (that doesn't sell dog meat unlike the restaurant at the FRONT of the apartment block). It looks that way out the front anyway and I'm scared to ask to look at the kitchen. The cheery young maitre'd speaks a smattering of English and even supplied me with a translated menu. Here, gathered amongst the usual scrum of fried rice and spicy beef, are some of the special delights you could partake of:

No. 84 Stir-fried pork intestines with hot pepper

No. 48 Stinky Tofu with salted egg yolk

No. 80 Pork liver stir-fried with bean paste

No. 42 Sesame on ed's back (I was unable to determine who 'ed' is, or was for that matter)

and finally my favourite,

No. 49 Shredded eel coming in a hilarious sound

Of course this fine cuisine is not confined to Shanghai. On our Christmas trip to Hainan Island we decided against partaking of the "Cow Bum Soup"

Till next time, 'Bon apetit'...

This article is part of a series relating to our lives abroad. For more articles click here

© 1992-2006, Nicholas Klar, PO Box 280, Brighton SA 5048, AUSTRALIA 

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