Seasonal foods for the next drop in temperature

Seasonal foods for the next drop in temperature

As the weather begins to get colder and dusk comes a little earlier with each passing day, we all have our tried-and-true strategies for staying warm in the winter. Whether it’s a beanie, hand warmers, long underwear or anything else, an extra layer is a must for most Shanghainese.

Those of us who have spent winters here know that even if the temperature stays above freezing most of the time, the number on the thermometer often belies the chill in the air, as the humidity of city winters It can get to the bone. .

Seasonal foods for the next drop in temperature

A freshly baked apple pie and a bowl of tomato soup

However, beyond extra clothing, sometimes a special food or drink is the perfect way to stay warm. For many of us, certain comfort foods that our mothers or grandmothers gave us as children in the winter are the ones that warm our souls the most.

For me, a warm bowl of chicken noodle or tomato soup or a slice of freshly baked apple pie was the perfect treat for a cold winter night at Grandma’s, and it snows a lot where she lives, so I really needed it. .

Certainly, different countries and cities around the world have their own special cold-weather comfort foods or seasonal specialties. Shanghai, of course, is no exception.

Let’s take a look at some specialty foods that are in the right season to enjoy right now.

khaki 柿子

The persimmon is a deep red-orange colored fruit and largely resembles a tomato. Its flavor, however, is much sweeter, which means that it could never be mistaken for a vegetable like its redder brother tends to be. Three-quarters of the world’s persimmons are grown in China, so while it’s not necessarily a popular or well-known fruit in the West, it’s abundant here.

It can be eaten fresh, but is sometimes frozen, and often dried and turned into a “persimmon cookie,” which isn’t really a cookie at all, but just the dried version of the fruit that looks a bit flattened into the round and flat shape. of a baked treat. Persimmons are sweet, but not too sweet, so they can also be added to other foods, like congee or oatmeal.

Hairy Crab 大闸蟹

A specialty in this region of the country, the hairy crab is much smaller than the giant king crab. And unlike most crustaceans we may be used to eating, these crabs come from freshwater rather than the ocean. They live in the region’s rivers and lakes, perhaps the most famous being Yangcheng Lake, just down the road in southern Jiangsu province.

Although, for many, they have a reputation for being tedious to peel and consume, I find the proverbial juice truly worth the squeeze. I’ll admit that for a long time I also thought that hairy crab was a bit overrated and that, despite there being a couple of mouthfuls of tasty meat or roe inside, it really wasn’t worth it.

However, since then I have come. Eaten correctly with a few simple tools and a bit of experience and knowledge can make the hairy crab a tasty experience and reduce aggravation. Dip the meat in a little rice vinegar and enjoy.

Pu’er Tea 普洱茶

My favorite entry on this list is not a food but a drink: Pu’er tea. While green teas are most popular in China during the summer, Pu’er, a kind of semi-fermented black tea with a particularly distinctive flavor, dominates the tea tables in the winter months.

Originating in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, the tea is often available for purchase in compressed balls or sometimes in various ornate shapes. Through a series of intricate processes that can take years, the raw tea leaves are partially fermented and oxidized until the final product is obtained.

Upon steeping, the tea possesses a wide range of flavors that sometimes the words of a layman like myself are insufficient to accurately describe. It is the perfect drink for the coldest months of the year to warm up and stimulate the palate.

Turnips 白萝卜

Although the turnip is not one of my favorite vegetables in most contexts, it is popular in these places and has been recommended to me in a multitude of ways at this time of year. The humble turnip, or bailuobo In Chinese, it is used to make soups, cakes, or a host of other types of dishes that incorporate its innate flavors and nutritional content.

One way I really enjoy turnips is in a traditional snack for people in this part of the country, fried turnip pie, or youdunzi (油墩子). Turnip shavings are mixed with tiny prawns and other ingredients and deep-fried to create, dare I say, a succulent delight.

Although this is just the beginning of what is invariably a lengthy list of foods and drinks traditionally consumed in China as the mercury dips, people here will have their own recommendations, perhaps related to traditions or customs, concepts rooted in the traditional Chinese. medicine, or even more modern trends, hopefully it’s at least a good start.

As we anticipate fall temperatures in the teens and twenties to drop to much smaller numbers, let’s make sure we’re prepared with our favorite winter treats. But don’t be afraid to try what the locals have to offer. After all, when in Ro… I mean… Shanghai…

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