Raclette cheese party

This all started as a joke. I had met this Quebec guy who tried to convince me that cheese in Quebec could rival European ones. To prove his point, he proposed to bring some raclette cheese next he would be in town. Two month later, our Quebecer came back. I then had to organize a raclette cheese party for him to prove the quality of his cheese. The cheese had to be vacuum sealed to avoid smell and get through Chinese borders… but this was only the beginning. Raclette is a very peculiar cheese dish originating from the French and Swiss Alps and Juras mountains. The cheese is melted and eaten while it’s hot with hot potatoes, various dried meets and cold cuts. To do a proper raclette meal required getting the specific cheese (that we had) and the various needed cold cuts that I ordered from my favorite restaurant. However, the most important element was finding a raclette oven. This device is quite popular in France and Switzerland, but finding it in Shanghai was very problematic. I inquired a number of French friends in the restaurant business, but nobody had one. Missing two people to complete the table and I invited a Swiss friend, assuming that he may have access to one. The cheese party was on Sunday lunch. Thursday arrived with still no trace of the needed oven, when suddenly I received a text message from him saying “I will have a raclette oven tomorrow”. I was so relieved that the party could take place… until I received the next message saying “The oven is broken and cannot be used. I should get another one tomorrow.” The whole destiny of my cheese party was hanging on my friend’s plan B. Fortunately the second oven worked out fine. Our lunch on Sunday was really special, as we all had been waiting for it. Eating this dish is truly unusual in Shanghai and we all enjoyed it tremendously. It brought to all of us memories of sky holidays, mountains and snow making us really feel like back in Europe for a moment. This successful lunch required the cooperation of a French bringing Italian cold cuts, a Quebecer bringing cheese all the way from his home land and a Swiss who searched for this special device found only in far away countries. This very exotic experience was shared by another French, a Chinese and a Mongolian friend (who all happened to like cheese very much). This mix of competences and experience was a truly Shanghai story, people and cultures from all around the world mixing in this very special place that Shanghai used to be and is becoming again. Having raclette in Shanghai makes it a little bit more become a World city.

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