Shang­hai lo­cals are nat­u­ral-born prag­ma­tists who pri­or­i­tize taste over fac­tors like whether the food is au­then­tic or not.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

X(soup dumplings), red­braised pork and hairy crab may have topped ev­ery food list com­piled by ev­ery travel guide for the city of Shang­hai.

But one par­tic­u­lar type of cui­sine is uniquely Shang­hainese. It is served in some of the city’s most his­toric and well-pre­served build­ings and has been eaten by lo­cals on im­por­tant or ro­man­tic oc­ca­sions for gen­er­a­tions.

Known as Shang­hai’s own brand of West­ern cui­sine in­cor­po­rates el­e­ments of French, Ital­ian and Ger­man cooking into the lo­cal culi­nary reper­toire. It could be com­pared to the kind of Chi­nese food sold in Chi­na­towns across the United States — au­then­tic dishes given a tai­lored twist.

“It’s a kind of West­ern cui­sine that you can use chop­sticks to eat, even though most peo­ple wouldn’t,” said Kong Mingzhu, a fa­mous Shang­hai food writer. She was speak­ing at Shang­hai Color­men, an in­vi­ta­tion-only cul­tural sa­lon held once a month.

In April, it de­cided to take an epi­curean look back in his­tory.

Sta­ple dishes in­clude potato salad, fried pork chop and Rus­sian borscht (a beet­root-based soup that ac­tu­ally orig­i­nated in the Ukraine). In kitchens across the city, th­ese three dishes serve as a lit­mus test to de­cide whether the mis­tress of the house has mas­tered the lo­cal cooking arts.

Yet all of the dishes are dif­fer­ent from how they are clas­si­cally pre­pared.

Veg­eta­bles are ab­sent from the potato salad, which de­rives from the Moscow clas­sic. In­stead, pota­toes and

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