Shanghai in Winter: a time of warmth, family and feasts
“Shanghai in Winter,” the third chapter of the series “Shanghai, Through the Seasons,” is now online to celebrate 2020's Chinese New Year.
This chapter tells the story of Italian chef Marco Barbieri, who lives in Shanghai like a local. He has run the famous Italian restaurant Da Marco with his Shanghai wife, Jennifer Yin, for more than 20 years.
Chef Barbieri, 51, is a testament to the famous phrase: "never trust a skinny chef." He's chubby, has a round face, thick eyebrows and smiling eyes. Twenty-five years ago he came to Shanghai from his home town, a small village close to Milan.
“My wife always says that she’s more Italian than me, and I am more Shanghainese than her,” Barbieri says.
Like many locals, Barbieri insists on shopping for fresh produce at the market and keeps a good relationship with various vendors to snatch quality ingredients at a good price.
“I can feel and touch the produce, that’s most important,” he says, referring to the growing trend of buying fresh fruit and vegetables online.
Although Barbieri speaks little Mandarin Chinese or Shanghai dialect, he’s quite popular at a local nursing home near his apartment.
And it's no wonder! He often brings pizza and cake there with his wife, and one of the old ladies is obsessed with his treats, even though her doctor has asked her to watch her blood sugar and cholesterol.
He and his wife both agree that food is for sharing, and that it brings people happiness.
Winter is his favorite season in Shanghai because it’s a festive season full of warmth and joy, from Christmas and New Year to the Spring Festival.
His mother-in-law loves to cook xunyu (deep-fried fish with soy sauce) and babaofan (sweet glutinous rice cake), while Barbieri sticks to his signature dishes.
He loves hosting family dinners at his restaurant featuring a mixture of cultures and sweetness. He even shares the feast with his mother in Italy through online video chat.
Shanghai is always changing, "but the taste of home remains."