China's poultry passion persists despite bird flu blues

April 2, 2013

Greetings from Shanghai, where a new strain of bird flu has killed two men and caused four more people to become critically ill. A patient diagnosis leaked to the Chinese social media site Weibo offered details of the most recent patient: a woman who worked as a poultry butcher in a Nanjing market. On March 30, doctors confirmed she was infected with H7N9 avian influenza. There is no vaccine for this version of the flu.

In the meantime, despite reports to the contrary, and the lack of any visible signs of an emergency plan in action, I can tell you that from here, the taste for poultry lives on in Shanghai. 

In the few days I've been here, I've eaten tea-smoked duck, tea-smoked goose, and even chicken feet for breakfast.
 
At the Lotus supermarket, located at the foot of Shanghai's most famous landmark, the Oriental Pearl Tower, I found blue-black-skinned Silkie chickens, as prized as ever. In Chicago you can find them at the live markets, too. 
Lean and gamy, Silkies are used most often as a traditional Chinese tonic soup, fragrant with ginseng and other medicinal herbs — a rather ironic cure-all given the present state of things.

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