Stinking Delicious



If your nostrils are suddenly assailed by an unsavory stench while walking around Shanghai, chances are you are near a place serving chou dou fu (stinking bean curd)—a favorite local street snack. This happened to me this evening as I fought my way through the crowds on a narrow food street in the old Chinese quarter. All around me, street vendors were cooking up flatbreads, dumplings, and noodles, and passers-by were scoffing them. And then I was caught in a great gust of that unmistakable aroma. In its raw state, stinking bean curd looks like normal white bean curd with a smattering of grayish mold, but smells awful. After deep-frying, it still smells awful, but it tastes wonderful. I stopped for a chat with the vendor, a smiling, middle-aged Shanghainese woman. She made me up a plateful, fresh from the fryer and drizzled with sweet fermented sauce and chile oil. Yum.

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