THE BUT­TER­FLY EF­FECT

A look at one of Shang­hai’s most iconic pas­tries that has re­mained a crowd fa­vorite through­out the years

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

but this has been ad­mit­tedly a good prob­lem to have.

Sales of the bak­ery’s palm-sized but­ter­fly pas­try have dou­bled ever since Lin in­creased the di­ary con­tent to suit the lo­cal Shang­hainese palate.

“It’s all about the pro­por­tion of flour and but­ter. We didn’t know that the peo­ple would be so ad­dicted to the pas­try af­ter we made it a lot more but­tery,” said Lin.

Priced at 20 yuan ($3) for a bag of five pieces, the but­ter­fly pas­try has been fly­ing off the shelves of two of Deda’s out­lets. Long queues are formed even be­fore the pas­try is un­veiled to the pub­lic just af­ter noon and the restau­rant has been pro­pelled back into the spot­light for the first time in decades.

This crispy and flaky puff that is lightly sprin­kled with sugar crys­tals is be­lieved to be a “cross­breed” of Chi­nese and Western culi­nary in­flu­ences, first cre­ated in the 1930s when the city was wel­com­ing ex­pa­tri­ates. Un­like those found in Bei­jing, which are usu­ally much smaller in size and harder in tex­ture, the Shang­hai ver­sion is ex­tremely flaky and crumbs fall like snowflakes af­ter a bite.

Hav­ing been in the pas­try busi­ness for more than 40 years, Lin served his ap­pren­tice­ship with Bian Xinghua, one of China’s most fa­mous pas­try chefs who was awarded gold medal at the 17th Culi­nary Olympics, held in 1988 in Ger­many. Lin re­mem­bered that Deda sold its first bag of but­ter­fly pas­try in the 1970s when China first opened up to the world.

Called Cos­mopoli­tan Cafe when it was founded in 1897, Deda earned it­self a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of the city’s best western restau­rants serv­ing au­then­tic Ger­man cui­sine. It was re­named Deda, mean­ing “Ger­man feast” af­ter the

Lin Jian­ming, govern­ment took over the busi­ness in 1949.

Lin said that in­gre­di­ents in the past were lim­ited and of­ten of medi­ocre qual­ity, but cus­tomers were still eas­ily sat­is­fied with his prod­ucts. Th­ese days, how­ever, with the in­flux of for­eign bak­eries around the city and con­sumers’ knowl­edge in the craft of mak­ing pas­tries, peo­ple are far harder to please.

Deda is not the only place in Shang­hai that sells the but­ter­fly pas­try. From the snack coun­ters in 24-hour con­ve­nient stores to the sil­ver trays at ho­tel restau­rants, it seems that the city can never get enough of it. The best ones are of­ten deemed by the lo­cals as those that are freshly made by home-grown bak­eries.

The bak­ery at Park Ho­tel, opened in the 1930s and once the tallest build­ing in east China, is one of the first in Shang­hai to of­fer the but­ter­fly pas­try. For many se­nior cit­i­zens, sip­ping a cup of coffee while eat­ing the pas­try at the ho­tel’s art-deco lobby was some­thing of an in­dul­gence in the golden days.

Ac­cord­ing to the sales­peo­ple at Park Ho­tel and Deda, the ma­jor­ity of those who buy the but­ter­fly pas­try now are from the younger gen­er­a­tions.

The but­ter­fly ef­fect has also rip­pled to places out­side Shang­hai. On Taobao.com, China’s largest cus­tomer-to-cus­tomer on­line shop­ping plat­form, peo­ple from other Chi­nese cities are pay­ing al­most 50 per­cent more to have the del­i­cate pas­try packed and shipped to their homes.

Ac­cord­ing to Liang Jianzhou, chief di­rec­tor of Park Ho­tel’s cul­tural affairs of­fice, the but­ter­fly pas­try has also been cho­sen as the treat for first­class pas­sen­gers on high-speed trains be­tween Shang­hai and Bei­jing.

It’s all about the pro­por­tion of flour and but­ter. We didn’t know that the peo­ple would be so ad­dicted to the pas­try af­ter we made it a lot more but­tery.”

Restau­rant

pas­try sup­plier to Deda

Read more on chi­nadaily.com.cn

LU PING / CHINA DAILY

Some say it looks like a heart while oth­ers call it a but­ter­fly. One thing is for cer­tain, though this pas­try has never lost its place in the hearts of the Shang­hainese peo­ple.

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