Maria Holland

That’s What This Blog Has Been Missing!

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I found avocados today!!!!!

This was pretty much the highlight of my stay in China thus far.  Xiamen, despite being a tropical island, is not an avocado-producing island.  I imagine that the climate would be just right for growing avocados, but for some reason they are not grown here.  It is one of the constant disappointments of my life, because I think most days are better with a bowl of guacamole.  Am I right, or am I right?  (Although, really, the lack of avocados is not the only stumbling block here; there are also no tortilla chips.  I mean, there is a green saltine-looking cracker that mysteriously tastes like a Tostito, but isn’t that a little weird?)  The lack of avocados goes on the list of things about China that I will never understand, along with the acceptability of spitting indoors, the undefined ends of phone calls, and the preference for chicken feet over actual meat. 

But, as I mentioned, today I triumphed!  Following a tip from a friend, I went to Metro to look for avocados (and a dozen other things on my Metro-only shopping list).  There they were, in all their wrinkly beauty . . . I was planning on getting four until I saw the price – 72 kuai per jin!  Neither of those units probably make sense to you, but taking 6.8 kuai as $1 and 1 jin (half a kilo) as 1.1 lb, it turns out that they were almost $10 a pound!  Swallowing deeply, I grabbed two and went to check out.  $5 for two avocados!  I am really looking forward to that guacamole . . .

Shopping at Metro is like mini culture shock.  In a usual Chinese supermarket, the average item is probably under 10 kuai ($1.50).  I have to be careful in Metro, though, as most items I want are about $5 each.  Cheese, butter, powdered sugar, baking mixes – all in the range of 30 kuai.  It was so easy to spend $50 today, which is a ridiculous sum of money in China! 

Back at home, I decided to put some numbers with my gut feelings of “cheap” and “expensive”.  I graphed the price by weight ($/lb) of several food items:


I feel slightly nerdy, and it feels AWESOME.  And it feels awesome that feeling nerdy still feels awesome . . . Did you follow that?

The data set is far from complete, as it only contains items from Metro whose receipts I still have and two fruits I recently bought, but I still think it’s interesting.  Avocados are, by weight, the most expensive thing I’ve bought in China, narrowly edging out cheese and butter (the good stuff I buy for bread).  I’m going to the supermarket tomorrow and plan to add more fruits and vegetables as well as anything else I find interesting.  I would also like to do a comparison with American prices, so I hope you’re looking forward to some more graphs!  I think that’s what this journal has been missing all along . . .

Today Xiamen took the opportunity to remind us of what a charming city it can be when the sun is out.  It was a gorgeous day – not too hot and not too cold, and all you need is a light jacket!  (And scarf, of course.)  After dropping off my groceries, I went out to the beach to check out the sunset.  Evening Prayer before such a vista is one of the simple pleasures of life, one that I hope to partake of more in the upcoming months.

Each time I left campus today, I felt like a fish swimming upstream.  The students of Xiamen University are returning in full force – finally!  The little convenience store downstairs opened today so we were finally able to get drinking water for our room, and the CaiQingJie restaurant opens tomorrow.  S

I met Diederik and three new Dutch guys for dinner.  Would “Holland and the Dutchmen” make a good band name?  I think so.  If you’ll allow me to make a generalization about the entire Dutch people based on 6 of them, I think they’re great.  Again, my data set is a little skewed – for instance, almost all of the Dutch people speak Chinese, and they’re all between the ages of 20 and 25 – but hey, it’s all based on my own personal experiences.

Come to think of it, every single one of the Slovenians I know speaks Chinese.  That’s probably not typical of the general population, is it? 

  1. Wow, $10/lb!?! Guacamole and tuna boats would be few and far between if they were that much. So, now you know: you have to get some American farmer to grow pomelos and get some Xiameni farmer to grow avocados!

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