Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Of Shanghai: Pigeon Head, Hot Pot

We ate quite well in Shanghai. It's a thoroughly modern kind of place, and in the tony diplomatic neighborhood where our hosts live, we found both Thai food and Mexican food. Which was sort of a waste because Mexican Fiesta Night at the Kabul cafeteria is really one of the least objectionable menus they serve. The Shanghai Mexican Food was good, but still only sort of split the difference between cafeteria Mexican Fiesta Night and Real Mexican Food and/or Mission-Style Burritos.

Anyway, we also took advantage of our hosts' insider knowledge and Mandarin language skills to have such delicacies as fried pigeon head, as seen above. We are duty bound to tell you that while we did have pigeon, we did not eat the heads. Our hosts I think sort of nibbled around the necks. Nobody sucked the eyeballs out, which I thought was how it is properly done.

We forgot to record for posterity what this dish looked like before we ate the chicken out of it, but perceptive readers might note that even if there was previously a whole lot of other stuff in this basket, that is still a substantial pile of those crazy hot little red Chinese-cooking peppers. And you can't even see all the Sichuan peppercorns, which your correspondent ate all of because it's fun how they make your tongue go numb.

Despite all that, the highlight of the trip was probably "hot pot," which term we have seen elsewhere to describe a clay pot of boiling water and various ingredients. We had not seen it to mean a restaurant based on having a little fry-o-lator on every table top (seen above featuring "normal" and "extra spicy" broth), and they bring you all sorts of crazy ingredients like "cuttlefish paste" which you toss in the boiling oil and then fish out and dip in a sauce that you make yourself at the sauce bar from an array of spices, soy sauces, and pureed things. Really a great place for families. They not only provide customers aprons and a special plastic bag to put your cell phone in so it doesn't get boiling oil on it, but also: the mix-your-own-sauce bar features mountains of Sichuan peppercorns. Or maybe they were just pre-positioned in the boiling oil. Either way, despite being warned about eating a small mountain of Sichuan peppercorns the night before flying across the Pacific, your correspondent was powerless to resist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have some of the greatest food adventures! The pictures and your narrative are super!