For one of the days with the students we went out to a suburb of Shang Hai to, among other things, investigate organic farming. Our first visit was to Auntie Fu's. Auntie Fu is getting kind of famous I guess; from what I could tell she runs an organic farm in Jin Shan (outside of Shang Hai) and also a factory that makes things like her famous red bean paste peach buns. Auntie Fu herself is about four and a half feet tall and all energy. She smiles with so much enthusiasm you're scared she's gonna pull something and is always purple-faced, sweating, enveloped in steam and carrying an oversized plate of hot snacks. On the day we met her we were actually supposed to eat lunch somewhere else so Auntie Fu was told not to prepare any food and just answer some questions about organic farming. Thank god she couldn't help herself and ended up preparing a small feast of seasonal winter snacks. She brought out simple roasted root vegetables, steamed pumpkin, picked beets, small gluttonous rice flower snacks filled with brown sugar, boiled pork dumplings, mixed seasoned nuts and the piece de resistance, a towering platter of steaming whole water chestnuts. I had never seen water chestnuts like these. The were huge, all about the sie of a baby's fist and each chestnut was covered with a paper thin layer of ink black skin. The pepperiness of the skin mixed with the sweetness of the chestnut to create one truly incredible bite. Now, like I said, we only stayed a minute and didn't get to eat much but Auntie Fu kept saying her most famous dishes were fresh chicken with handpicked mushrooms and slow roasted duck. I personally met some of those chicken and ducks and they looked fat and happy (i.e. delicious) so I can't wait to get back and try some of her real dishes. I highly recommend if anyone is headed to the the Shang Hai area drop her an email. It'll be a trip.
Jin Shan (outside of Shang Hai)