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Thanksgiving in China

Many people have asked me whether or not I would get any turkey in China for Thanksgiving. It’s not celebrated by the Chinese who think it’s an American religious holiday and don’t understand that it has to do with English colonists giving thanks to the Indians for helping them survive. And I wasn’t even sure if they even have turkeys in China to be honest. But nevertheless, I did get to eat turkey at a couple of Thanksgiving meals in Shanghai, complete with all the fixings including stuffing, yam and cranberry sauce. Qin and Mike cooked for several days to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. For the expats in China, friends are substitutes for family.

On the flight down to Shanghai, I was reading the China Daily, the English newspaper in China. There was a funny article about how some American company that exports turkeys is working on trying to convince more Chinese people to celebrate Thanksgiving and eat turkey. They’ve even invested significant time and money into coming up with turkey dishes suitable to the Chinese palate. While the Chinese are pretty eager to adopt most things American and Western, I think this one is a tough sell, considering the fact that even my parents usually substitute chicken for turkey at Thanksgiving even after living in the States for almost 20 years. They think it’s just a tough and dry bird.

Besides stuffing myself on Thanksgiving food, since the food in Shanghai is awesome, I went out to several different restaurants over the course of the weekend. For lunch on Friday, Qin took me to the French Concession where we ate at this tiny French bistro called 570. The food was delicious and the neighborhood reminded me of the village. We ate at a Chinese fusion restaurant called People 6 that night. There are 3 “People” restaurants in China, People 6, 7 and 8. Although the name is completely uncreative, the owner must have a funny sense of humor since there is usually some trick involved in getting into the restaurant and finding the bathroom. I cheated getting in since I saw someone push the hidden button that opened the door but the bathrooms were hidden in a maze of mirrors. If you walk too quickly you might just run into the mirrored wall (almost did that several times!). People 6 was followed by Thanksgiving party #2 where I had really yummy pumpkin pie.

On Saturday, I went to Yu Yuan Gardens in the Old Town. It’s a traditional Chinese area with shops, restaurants and a garden. There were thousands of people there, local and foreign. We went to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, which supposedly serves some of the best Shanghai soup dumplings in the city. And it must be so since the lines were absolutely outrageous. The restaurant had an army of people making the dumplings on multiple levels. It was fun to watch while we waited for our table.

On Saturday night, I went with Qin and some of her friends to the Jay Chou concert. Jay Chou is probably the hottest male pop star at the moment in Asia, often referred to as the Justin Timberlake of Asia. The Linkin Park concert I attended the weekend before had been the largest concert in Shanghai but this one had about twice as many people. I was seriously worried we would get crushed in the crowds. There were 80,000+ people in attendance. The concert was quite a visual spectacle, with fireworks, fancy lighting and graphics on multiple LCD screens. I know that he’s singing in Mandarin, a language I understand okay, but I honestly just cannot understand what he says. Nevertheless, he is quite talented – plays the piano (classically trained), drums and traditional Chinese instruments in addition to writing a lot of his own songs and lyrics.

I grabbed one last Western meal for Sunday brunch at Xintiandi, a recently renovated block of traditional “lang houses” that houses a bunch of trendy restaurants and stores. It’s a fun area if completely commercialized.

From: Blogspot.com

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