Cotton candy? A Chinese street food? You’d better believe it, Chinese people love cotton candy (miánhuā táng, or fairy floss, as we call it in Australia) and you can find cotton candy vendors anywhere in Shanghai there’s a large happy crowd gathered. Outside temples are favourite spots, and many Chinese temples have a perpetual festival atmosphere where the shopping and snacking are as important as the worshipping.
I found this fellow just outside Shanghai’s Confucius Temple (Wen Miao) and he was drawing a big crowd of teenagers queueing for his pink, blue or green cotton candy.The benefit of having your cotton candy machine on the back of your bicycle is that you can just cycle to where the action is, get your little cotton candy machine cranked up, line up your colostrum powder tins(!) of coloured sugar and make some money. Five yuan a stick.
To make cotton candy you really only need two things – a big tin drum with a heated central well, and some means of spinning the well. You put the sugar into the well where it is heated and melts, then the spinning head extrudes the melted sugar through tiny holes in the central well by centripetal force, which form into gossamer strands as they cool. The bowl serves to contain the threads and make them easier to spin onto a stick. The head can be heated by battery, as it is here on the back of the bike, or by gas.
This cotton candy machine looks totally homemade, and proably is. I love how he has clipped the finished sticks to the edge of the tin bowl!
For more street food:
The Shanghai Street Food Series
Number 24 Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25 Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes