Friday, September 26, 2008

Chocolate Shanghai


Wandering through the former French Concession these days I seem to keep bumping into chocolate shops, or Chocolatiers as the continentals would have it. The one pictured is on Fuxing Road and looks rather nice and cosy. Chocolate, the real stuff that is, has always been a bit of a mystery to many of us raised in England and addicted to the combination of vegetable fats that are passed of as chocolate. And now we have the corporatisation of chocolate in China with the opening of Hershey World in Raffle Plaza on Xizhang Road.

Still, chocolatiers, the real thing and not Hershey’s, in the French Concession is, you’ve guessed it, nothing new. Helen Foster-Snow, who’s pen name was Nym Wales and was married to Edgar ‘Red Star Over China’ Snow, was also someone who knew how to enjoy life. When the Snows lived in Shanghai she was a habitué of the famous and extremely popular Chocolate Shop on Bubbling Well Road, a home-from-home for Americans in the International Settlement, where she and Edgar would come to enjoy sandwiches, salads and ice cream. The Chocolate Shop pops up in so many memoirs of old Shanghai it must have been good. It was still around in 1945 according to the Flying Tigers Guide to Shanghai. Hopefully these new chocolate shops will last a good long while too – so much nicer than just another bloody Starbucks blanding the neighbourhood.

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