HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
I spent my Valentine’s evening at the Lantern Festival at Yuyuan Garden. The Lantern Festival celebrates the end of the Chinese New Year, which lasts for about two weeks.
It was a very big celebration in Shanghai! The streets of the Old Town (where the famous Yuyuan Garden is located) were lined with beautiful red lanterns. Everyone was holding sparklers and fireworks were going off all around us. The streets were lined with street food and blow-up/light-up toys. The smell of “stinky tofu” lingered in the air. “Stinky tofu” is the name given to the most AWFUL smelling tofu you will ever smell in your life. It looks like fried tofu skewers and smells like manure from a mile away. it is everywhere in China. It actually tastes quite delicious, but it takes a lot of courage to try because of its stench. Other popular street foods at the Lantern Festival were meat skewers, xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and lots of unidentifiable slabs of meat.
Another tradition during the Lantern Festival is to eat these sweet rice balls filled with red bean. You have most likely tried these at a Chinese restaurant before. During the Lantern Festival, they are served in a sweet soup broth (see picture below). I love the gooey texture of these rice balls and am a huge fan of red bean paste! The cafeteria at my school served these as part of lunch on Friday to celebrate the Lantern Festival.
It was a great night just pushing my way through the overly crowded lantern-lit streets and inhaling the smell of stinky tofu. It really felt like I was in China, and I loved every minute of it! This may come across as sarcasm when reading this, but I am not being sarcastic. I love experiencing these very Chinesey traditions and embrace the smells and customs that come along with them. I wish you were all here to experience it for yourselves because words on a screen just don’t capture the moment.
It is officially the year of the horse! Make it a great one! XO
P.S. Sorry, the pictures aren’t great. I was borrowing my friend’s China flip phone to take pictures…