Tag Archives: City Shop

Nopes, no way, can’t do it!

12 Dec

I recently got overly excited about an online “premier” “safe, high quality” grocer called Fields. Their website is very well done and they’ve got quite a large variety of fruits, vegetables, meat and pantry products, which they deliver to your home. This is primarily why I was so interested. As a foreigner, you probably find 90 to 95% of what you need here to cook the dishes you are used to. The trouble is you have to go to a few places to get them. I get my meat from Yasmine’s, an Australian butchery or from some specific supermarkets renowned for their good products (mainly Metro). For pantry and dairy products (and anything else really), you could go of course to City Shop but it costs an arm every single time. So I usually go to the Avocado Lady (on whom I still need to dedicate a full post), on Wulumuqi Lu/Wuyuan Lu, who just has everything you can think of at very reasonable prices. But, it sometimes feels like a mission to get all you need, hop on a cab, get to the other place and hop on a cab again to go home.

This is why Fields sounded brilliant. And it is! I had my first delivery last Saturday. The vegetables, most of them organic, look fabulous. I had ordered, amongst other things, their value pack which is filled with all sorts of vegetables (including green and purple kohlrabis, which I need to experiment with), as well as 10 organic eggs and a free-range chicken. When I received the package, the chicken was frozen in its bag. It looked small and I tried to figure out if it was a whole chicken or two legs or… I couldn’t so I simply put it in the freezer and only got it out yesterday to be defrosted for today’s dinner.



So here I was just a few minutes ago, enthusiastically getting some spices out and opening the bag to start marinating the beast before putting it in the oven. I get it out and find out that a) it is a whole but really small chicken and b) it still has its full head and two feet!* I got a squeamish “eeewww” out and put it in a dish. I froze for a while, took a deep breath and thought: come on, this is your dinner, man up and just chop the neck and feet. With two fingers I grabbed a leg and, as the neck and head unfolded from under the body, the full head appeared and a black eye, mostly pushed into the head but still able to peak out through translucent skin, gave me a horrible deadly look. That’s when I thought, ok no way, can’t do it… I froze again, wondering if I should throw the animal or what, then decided better let the āyi (cleaning lady) do it for me tomorrow. I’ll give her the feet to munch on** and have pasta tonight.



* That’s how chicken are sold here – see the post Chop the head yourself!

** Chicken feet are a big delicacy in China.

Chop the head yourself!

7 Dec

Going to the supermarket, except for Carrefour as you may have read in a previous post, remains a constant source of amusement. My local supermarket is called Lian Hua. It’s not very big but it offers a really good range of products, including a very decent selection of European goods. It’s only to buy meat that I go to the fancy City Shop, which sells Australian meat.

Somehow, until today, I had never been to the very back of the shop at Lian Hua. That’s where you will find meat, fish and poultry. Again, the choice is wide. You can get live fish. It may respond to the (Lebanese) anxiety for freshness when buying fish but the water did look like it needed changing. The fishes were trying to gulp air from the surface.

It also appears that it is quite popular for Chinese (or Shanghainese?) people to eat many more parts of the animals than most people in the Middle East or Europe do and that they are especially fond of animals’ heads… Chickens and ducks are sold with their heads. On the streets, you will find ducks’ heads sold separately. Fish heads are also either sold with the fillet or on their own. No wonder that they use and sell these really scary knives everywhere. It’s to chop the heads (and in some cases feet) yourself!

Joli canard :s

Like for the dogs’ attires, there’s often a culturally cuter side to things, like forks and spoons being sold individually!


6 Nov

Anything I do these days, anywhere I go, almost anyone I meet generates some sort of amazement, wonder or intense puzzling. The supermarket perhaps even more so as it is meant to supply you with something as basic as food.

So far, I’ve had two supermarket experiences. The first one was comical, the other one started in a fun way but ended up in utter repugnance. So much so that the second time we’ve resorted to online delivery (and overspending to make sure we hit the minimum spending amount to be delivered).

The first supermarket experience was at a local Tesco Express (Le Gou in Mandarin). We wanted to buy some cleaning products and some food on the very day we moved into our flat. Our idea of a quick shopping trip was cut short when we realised we actually couldn’t make informed decisions about most of the products because it was ALL written in Chinese… A few examples below:

Which one's the shampoo and which one's the conditioner?

What to choose?

The second experience was at the gigantic Carrefour (Jia Le Fou) to the west of town. I needed to get a hoover machine, a kettle, a hair dryer as well as more food, that we could recognise one way or another until we start knowing and mastering local products and foods. I started with the house appliances section and was immediately and aggressively greeted by 7 or 8 salespersons throwing themselves at me. One lady even took hold of my trolley and would not let me go any further, until I firmly shouted some mono-syllabic word at her. All these people started selling their products in Chinese. Why did they bother so much I don’t know because obviously I don’t speak the language, second what do I really know about hoovers? The situation did make me laugh, it was so ridiculous. I had to shout a big “ok, wait!” and to wave both my arms laterally to shut them up and start having a look. Once the hoover was chosen, the shouting started again for the kettle, and again for the hairdryer. Apparently, all these people are not employees of the supermarket but of the different brands and get paid by commission. You could find other salespeople in the cleaning products and food sections.

The rest of the shopping experience became gradually horrible, trying to find different things such as coffee, sugar, tea, pasta, cans of tomatoes, corn flakes, olive oil. However, I was very amused on a number of occasions when I came across interesting products (see below) and things I just couldn’t figure out, like why ALL of the instant coffee pots were sold without their lids… It started being annoying when, as in the first supermarket experience, I couldn’t recognise some products because the packaging would NOT tell you what it is in English, but would stress in English that “[The producers] adhere to strict standard of high quality for remarkably delicious taste.” Obviously, it’s only at the very end that I discovered the “Western” section of the supermarket, tucked in a corner, and it became clear why I found that there were two sorts of “western” customers: those who looked very purposeful and focused and the completely bewildered and frustrated species like myself…

Anyway, hopefully never again now that we have all appliances and that the rest can be found more locally, namely at City Shop on Nanjing Road and at the legendary Avocado Lady, who deserves her own dedicated post. Watch this space…

Papaya and ginger perfumed cleaning products :)


This is not seaweed, this is tea! Bought it but didn't try it yet.

Don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I shall pass on this for now...

Aargh but what is it??? Milk, yoghurt, soya milk, rice milk???

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