Dinnertime in the old market

When we got out of the Temple of the City God in Shanghai, it was about 5 in the evening. This is about the time that a typical person in China would be thinking of dinner. It was our first evening in China, and our bodies were still two hours behind. We decided to go with the body clock and treat this as tea time. Our plane would leave at 11 at night, giving us a clear six hours more to finish our dinner.

We walked through the spectacular food market (gallery above, click to enter) peering at the food on display in various stalls. I always think that it must be extremely tiring to man these little stalls of food. It must take a wonderful person to keep one’s smile while serving hundreds in an evening. I did catch the tiredness on the faces of people behind the counters, but I was distracted by the variety of food on display. Many things were familiar, but the plates of desserts threw me. I saw something like a custard tart, a Portuguese Pasteis de Nata. I had one later in the trip; it was comparable to the ones I’d eaten in Belem and Sintra. The Family and I chose something that we had no referents for, the green and pink blocks which you see when you click on the photos of the desserts. They were wonderful; very mildly sweet like all desserts in China, made of rice and beans. We had to choose one out of all the things on display, and we did not regret our choice.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. The custard tarts are called “Dan Tats” — dan meaning egg and “tat” just a Chinese way of saying tart. My favorite Chinese dessert is red bean paste wrapped in a rice flour paste, sometimes with coconut on the outside. The first time I tried it was in Hong Kong, wandering aimlessly around (a nice break because life in Guangzhou was never aimless). If I ever get the chance to have them now, I feel that day all over again. I also like the same thing fried with sesame seeds on the outside.

    Plumeria blossoms (white ones) are called “Ji Dan Hua” or chicken egg flower. ❤ I came back from China with only Chinese words for many things. I'd only experienced them there. One of those was ringworm. I got it. I didn't know the English word for it. Never had before. When it reappeared in San Diego I went to a Chinese pharmacist because I didn't know what it was. You can imagine his surprise which a red-haired white lady came into his shop and asked for medicine for "Shen." I've enjoyed these posts SO much.


    1. I’m happy to have a delighted reader. Can a writer ask for more?

      The red bean paste inside a sticky-rice paste is what I always think of as “mochi”, because I first encountered it in Japan. Sesame covered sweets are too common in India for me to feel any special urge to have them when I’m in another country.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.