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Zhaojialou: A Taste of History at Every Turn

Photo: Hayden Greene

Zhaojialou Water City dazzles globe-trotting foodies with sights, sounds and flavors unique to Southeast Asia.

Social scholars consider food to be a cultural pillar, in part because it is idiocentric to societies worldwide. Food has been used to mark countries and peoples for generations. It follows, that in Zhaojialou, an ancient water town in Shanghai, China, local cuisine takes top billing among the regional treasures for travelers to explore.

Established more than 1,700 years ago, Zhaojialou and its canals were created to capitalize on agriculture for community development. Rivers were dredged and villages were founded, all with the purpose of providing food for a growing region. The result is a modern-day network of farmers who set up shop in a world-renowned market rich in diversity and entrepreneurship. Self-sufficiency is ubiquitous in this popular, 47-acre tourist destination.

Vivid colors and smells greet visitors at every turn and serve as an invitation to literally taste Chinese culture. Foods and ingredients somewhat familiar to Westerners are juxtaposed here with local delicacies only found in this part of the world. The market is a literal cornucopia, from its handcrafted snacks prepared on the spot to myriad spices that form the foundation of China’s most authentic dishes.

Zhaojialou’s edible offerings are available alongside such handcrafted and manufactured goods as bowls and mats, making the market a one-stop shop for those looking to create the perfect Chinese cultural experience.

*Photography by Hayden Greene

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