East Meets West at the Shanghai Pudong Airport

During my stay in Nanhui, a suburban district of Shanghai, I had to get used to the fact that there simply was no good coffee accessible to me for days. Really, the only option would have been to search for a dust-coated jar of old Nescafé at the local supermarket, and pay an outrageous price for it (if it even existed there…). This did not seem like to attractive a solution, so I decided to just try to deal and drink green tea with my breakfast instead. It didn’t really do the trick at all, and I was notably tired throughout the entire trip. For what it’s worth, I did feel myself a tad more in tune with the local culture. No grande double-shot iced caramel macchiatos with skim foam and whipped cream in suburban China – got it.

As soon as I got to Pudong Airport, however, it was time to hunt down the Western businessman hangout spot and pray that they had some decent coffee for me to guzzle down before boarding an 11 hour flight to L.A. And they did. At a place called Hope Star Coffee and Cate. And it was 10 dollars. I went all the way, too, holding nothing back… I got the larger of the two sizes of double-shot Mochachino with whole milk. It arrived to the table, in all of its chocolately and frothy glory, along with two little buttery biscuit stick things, which made me smile and thank the Good Lord that I live in a place where I can indulge in coffee+pastry every morning if I want to. As I was gulping down my thick, calorie-rich coffee beverage, I decided to get something a lil’ bit Asian to go along with my Western treat.

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After a careful deliberation of the picture menu, I landed on the Snow Pear and White Fungus Soup with Goji Berries. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is the ultimate lady food in terms of its health and cosmetic benefits. The snow pear was deliciously moist and juicy, with a very delicate sweetness which was heightened just a bit by the sweetness of the broth. The fungus was gelatinous with a very soft bite to it. Apparently, the stuff is packed with collagen and so it, like bird’s nest soup, is very good for keeping the skin young and elastic. Apparently it is also good for preventing coughs or a soar throat. A few Goji Berries (a.k.a. wolfberries), known to be a superfruit in China, were floating around in the soup as well. These are packed with antioxidants and other great little nutrients. I didn’t really chew on them too much so I don’t remember their flavor, but they must have breathed their magic powers into the broth at some point. It was a very refreshing soup, only very slightly sweet (in true Chinese fashion), with an interesting combinations of textures. Didn’t really GO with my Mochachino (and the waitress did give me an odd look when I ordered the two together), but I’m glad I got it and, in doing so, juxtaposed the fat, rich, obviously sweet West with the delicate, healthy, humble flavors of the East.

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