An Asia Foodie: Shanghai Edition

Xiao long bao, soup dumplings, were invented in Nanxiang, a village outside Shanghai.  So, just as Chicago tourists head to Gino’s East to eat deep dish pizza and Memphis tourists get their fingers dirty eating ribs, Shanghai tourists line up for hours for steamers of thin-skinned tongue-burning xiao long bao.  I was lucky to find … Continue reading

Ain’t Misbehavin’

On my first full day in Shanghai, I went on a mission to find the soul of this allegedly glitzy and vacant capital of commercialism. Shanghai had the weather on its side.  It was a sunny autumn day, 60 degrees, with yellow maple leaves wafting down from trees everywhere I turned.  Shanghaiites in the French … Continue reading

Defense Mechanisms

The Great Wall is presented to tourists as a story of ancient China’s great technological skill and power.  However, it’s just as much a story of ancient China’s great folly and paranoia.  Despite the epic amount of labor and resources that went into its creation, the Wall was never finished, and didn’t stop the Manchus … Continue reading

Sunday in the Park with Chinese Characteristics

How Chinese is modern China?  That was a question posed by Christian Caryl in his review of a recent slew of China books in the 12/9/10 issue of the New York Review of Books.  Caryl summarized the thesis of journalist Martin Jacques’s book, titled (with Glenn Beck-esque hysteria) When China Rules the World: The End … Continue reading

An Asia Foodie: Beijing Edition

During my pre-Beijing internet food research, I stumbled upon a Chowhound thread in which the poster Yi Chi Wei Rong stated: “if you like oily, salty and doughy, then Beijing is the place for you.” Although 30 degree temperatures and gray skies do get me craving a plate of boiled (doughy) jiaozi dumplings, I struggled … Continue reading

Chain Reaction

In an iconic old city, whose streets and landmarks are steeped in history and venerated in numerous works of art, the forces of globalization and consumer capitalism (aided by a municipal government tasked with housing its enormous populace) are replacing neighborhood businesses and traditional architectural forms with multinational chains and bland glass and steel high-rises. … Continue reading