Street Foods are back! Today’s post is unforgivably short because I’m travelling – off to China for Chinese New Year! And I know those of you who are hard at work sometimes only have time for just a bite of China rather than a whole meal.
I think 2013 was street food’s year in every sense – the first International Street Food Congress was held in Singapore, and cities all over the world changed their minds about the perceived ‘risks’ of street food and approved legislation for street food trucks and street food precincts, bringing back a vivid street food scene to cities like Glasgow and Brisbane.
In China, of course, where street food has been part of a thriving food culture for centuries, that’s nothing new. But with tough new food safety laws in China being enacted with heavy justice, street food vendors may find 2014 the year they struggle to survive against the heavy hand of the law.
So let’s celebrate street food, and support its ongoing role as an integral part of Chinese food culture, but also support it becoming cleaner and safer.
Today’s Shanghai Street Food is seasonal and special – fresh, tart, sweet pomegranate juice – shiliu zhi 石榴汁. The pomegranate vendors with their glass cases packed tightly with ripe pomegranates start to appear in Shanghai in autumn as the first pomegranates arrive from far western Xinjiang.
The pomegranates have paler flesh, the colour of pale pink petals with blushes of rose, but are very juicy and have small seeds. Pomegranate seeds are not used in Chinese cooking but the juice is a popular seasonal treat for its value as a blood tonic, and the skin is used in traditional Chinese medicine for many ailments.
Each glass of juice is pressed freshly using a hand-operated press mounted on top of a tray back tricycle – it takes about three whole fruit for one glass.
The taste is fresh and acidic but also surprisingly sweet, and soothes the throat on those early cold dry days of winter. Come to think of it, it’s probably a very good tonic for polluted air…these vendors might be doing a roaring trade this year!
Pomegranate juice: About 10 yuan ($1.50) for a glass.
Shanghai Street Foods – The Complete Guide:
Number 24 Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25 Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 30 Shengjianbao – pan-fried dumplings