Thursday, June 21st

Text and images by Ariel Bobson.

We started off the day at the Shanghai Museum. We travelled there together and then went our separate ways when we arrived in order to explore on our own. I found the visitors there more engrossing than anything else on display. It seems like people are obsessed with photos of themselves anywhere we go. There is a formula to it; pose in front of whatever makes that specific location instantly recognizable, run to the camera to view the image, and retake. The second photo differs from the first in a few ways: position of the subjects amongst each other (the most body conscious hide behind the children), position of the head (to avoid multiple chins), and position of body parts (to instantly distinguish the relationship the subjects have to one another).

On a more general note, I need to vent for a minute. The food, THE FOOD. It’s not bad, it’s actually delicious… in small doses. Shanghainese cuisine (like Shanghai itself) is new and expansive. Specialties range from dim sum (soup dumplings, steamed buns), street food (sesame balls, scallion pancakes), typical noodle joints and tiny storefronts displaying a myriad of fried foods that lead right onto the sidewalk. It’s so exciting to point to something that smells delicious and devour it on the spot, not to mention that the most delicious discoveries come from the street and virtually cost nothing.

This food doesn’t come without a price. My stomach is upset. What’s doing it is the oil. There seems to be a thick layer of it sitting at the bottom of the bowl/plate/container/carton only to be noticed during the last few bites of whatever I’ve just eaten. This isn’t a good thing, nor is it a bad thing, it’s just different than what I’m used to. Therefore, when a small group of us barreled into a familiar fast food chain during a recent photo safari, our reaction to the chain’s offerings was more than slightly atypical, “this food is amazing,” “it’s just so good,” “I feel like I just ate a healthy meal.”

As previously stated, I love the food here, I really do. I’d eat dumplings every day, but my western insides insist that I don’t. The situation was looking pretty grim until I googled “American food in Shanghai” and found every kind of food I would want delivered right to my door! Crisis averted.

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