Experience the best of summer in Songjiang
As the heat wave hits the city and the mercury continues to soar, you might choose to stay at an air-conditioned room. But it's also a good idea to walk out of the house, enjoy the summer sun with a good sweat in the great nature and open air.
Laid out like a giant lotus leaf, Xinbang Town in southwestern Songjiang has earned its reputation as "the home of the lotus" for about 1,500 years. Today the town has been the biggest lotus flower-breeding center in eastern China with a water area of almost 4 square kilometers.
A lotus festival in the town is running until September 18, with a series of summer activities, such as a lotus market and mud football.
The Xinbang Lotus Base has more than 1,200 varieties of ornamental lotus and over 60 varieties of water lilies.
In addition to traditional lotus snacks and lotus coffee, visitors can taste other specialty foods from the six towns of southern bank of Huangpu River.
On the muddy field, activities including football matches, tug-of-war and tire rolling created a lively atmosphere.
During this year's lotus festival, a food festival will also be held, inviting families, catering businesses, and chefs to participate.
In addition to teaching people how to make delicious snacks and dishes related to lotus, a cooking competition will select the top 10 dishes, top 10 chefs, and top 10 restaurants.
Xinbang is an agricultural center boasting clean water, fresh air and fertile land.
Nestled amid rivers and canals, the town's geographic layout looks like a lotus leaf.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), local farmers planted lotus in the town's crisscrossing waterways. The locality became known as the "hometown of lotus."
Goat meat gala
In Songjiang's Zhangze Village, Yexie Town, the traditional way to beat the heat in summer is to eat goat meat. This year, the festival devoted to it will run through October.
For centuries, goat meat has been a summer ritual on the dinner tables of Zhangze villagers. According to traditional Chinese medicine, mutton or goat meat strengthens inner yang (hot) energy and fortifies the body for the coming winter months. It is also said to ease poor circulation, relieve some heart problems, assist menstrual irregularities and help expel body toxins, especially when eaten with reheated yellow rice wine.
This year sees the 15th Zhangze Goat Meat Culture and Tourism Festival. The Yexie tourism map was released simultaneously, allowing citizens and tourists to not only taste delicious food but also enjoy the beautiful scenery of Yexie.
At the opening ceremony, the "Traveling in Yexie" theme market brought agricultural products, enterprise specialty products, specialty flowers and Zhangze goat meat, enabling people to interact on the spot and experience intangible cultural heritage.
In order for diners to better understand the culture of Zhangze goat meat and to taste the authentic food, a short film called "Tasting Yexie's Zhangze Goat Meat" was made to explain how to eat it, where to eat it, and when to eat it.
Zhangze goat meat is an important brand in the food and culture of Songjiang District and has gained a good reputation among diners. In the future, Yexie will utilize the Zhangze Goat Meat Culture and Tourism Festival, relying on the town's ecological resources to promote rural tourism.
Sweet, juicy and large. Songjiang's Cangqiao crystal pears have won not only national awards but also the hearts of Shanghai fruit lovers.
Small wonder that so many people are heading for the Cangqiao Pear Festival, which began last month.
The early maturing variety comes into season in late June. The others ripen in succession through mid-September.
Unlike the classic pear shape, the Cangqiao variety is perfectly round and can weigh more than 250 grams. Its flesh is snow white and delicate in flavor. It's been crowned the "king of pears" in many taste competitions.
The mouth-watering sweetness is considered a highlight of the summer fruit season. And according to traditional Chinese medicine, pears can help dispel body heat and nourish the lungs, making it an effective treatment for coughs and asthma.
Pear breeding in Cangqiao has a history of hundreds of years. In the 1970s, local orchardists, agronomists and experts from the Horticulture Institute under Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences spent more than 10 years of seed selection, grafting and crossbreeding to improve the fruits taste. The result is award-winning pears.
The cultivation is closely monitored, from tree blooms and pruning to composting and harvesting.
Each pear is labeled after picking, allowing anyone to trace its origin by scanning the label.
But this festival isn't only about tasting pears. Visitors can also enjoy local operas and live show in the orchards. They are also welcomed to pick the fruit in the orchards to have a one-day farmer experience.
"Our parent-child picking event will continue to September this year. We will also launch a photography activity, hoping it can bring new vitality into the promotion of the Cangqiao Crystal Pear brand," said Jin Fenglei, the person in charge of the pear base.
It's peach season again. That sweet and juicy fruit is ripe for the picking now, and it is a bumper harvest this summer.
It is prime time to eat peaches harvested in Sheshan Town from early July to early September. Urban dwellers can take a trip to the countryside and pluck to their heart's content.
The large patches of peach trees at the Xinyu Fruits Cooperative in the town are ready to have a good harvest these days. Under the sunlight, the plump, pinky peaches on the branches are even more enticing. The town's fruit has earned recognition nationwide for its big size, thin skin, juicy flesh and sweet taste.
"The peach breed that is ripe now and coming into season is 'Chunxiao.' Although there has been more rain this year, its sweetness level has reached 16, which is higher than the other varieties in Shanghai in mid-July," said the cooperative's director Jin Yongmin.
In recent years, the cooperative has greatly improved the orchard's soil by using organic fertilizers, further enhancing the quality of the peaches.
The peach farming land in Sheshan has reached about 33 hectares. There will be more other varieties, such as Sheshan Pantao peach, that will come to the market and be for sale until early September.