THE FLOATING SCENE
When it was still a tea establishment I took three Shanghainese girls there.
They spent the entire time slagging Chinatown, the Cantonese, Hong Kong attitudes, and everything Southern Chinese and San Franciscan, and ate an enormous amount of dainties with great gusto, and bucketloads of tea (chrysanthemum Pu Er; 菊普). A great time was had.
[Chrysanthemum Pu Erh: 菊普茶 ('guk pou chaa'), a mixture of dried white chrysanthemum flowers (菊花 'guk faa') and aged Pu Erh tea (普洱茶 'po nei chaa') from Yunnan Province (雲南 'wan nam'), which is considered especially suitable for drinking with small snackipoos as served for breakfast-lunch in Cantonese metropolitan areas.]
I may have had an ulterior motive vis-à-vis one of them, but I've always been keenly aware of the limits of fantasy, and consequently never did anything more than deliciously imagine possibilities. My sense of reality told me that there were Shanghainese relatives in the background, and being a Cantonese-speaking kwailo would cut me no mustard.
Everything Cantonese is so déclassé (落入社會底) if you are from a mud flat on the Woosung (吳淞江) where pig carcasses (死猪) slowly drift past (漂漂流流了). As they do.
Nobody famous or rich ever spoke Cantonese!
It's a fairly useless language.
For many years the Cantonese knew Shanghai primarily as a city of of sin, where prostitutes, politicians, and gangsters catered to the whimsies of Imperialists, wore silk, smoked expensive cigarettes, and ate eels.
No one had even heard of xiaolongbao in those days.
[I concede that xiaolongbao are very clever.]
Remarkably, there are now Cantonese Restaurants in Shanghai, mostly located near the big hotels, so it's possible to get dim sum there.
Shanghai has improved over the years.
Chinatown has declined.
Nope, still not ever going to learn Shanghainese.
Sounds like a leaky soda water syphon.
All hissing and spitting.
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