Sunday, November 15, 2009


We eat a Chinese diet.  It consists of fresh veggies, fruit, rice, noodles, with small amounts of meat and seafood.  We also eat various breads.  No dairy.  It is a low fat and yummy way of eating.  I don't miss most of the junk Americans eat, but sometimes I get a hankering.
We have various expat friends here, and we share the intel as best we can.  I found mayonnaise last spring.  It was actually available in quite a number of markets, but it had a Chinese label, and was in a small jar.  I recognized the Best Foods coloration on the label.  I next found a liquor store that sold something besides Hennesy and Chinese firewater.  Expensive imports from Jack Daniels to Gordon's Gin line the shelves, but Russian vodka is the big bargain.  Stoli's is only 10 bucks a bottle.  Of course I then needed ice and some kind of mixer.  Chinese don't use either, so the search was on.  I finally found ice cube trays in the local supermarket, but had to settle on juice for a mixer.  I could have used Coke or Sprite, but preferred bottled Minute Maid fruit blend.
Last month my Welsh (don't call them English!) friend, Gaynor showed up at our weekly beer night with a can of "Watson's Tonic".  She said she had found it at Wal Mart.  On a subsequent visit to Wal Mart I was unable to find it, and the staff there were clueless.  However, Yali used some of her Chinese logic and led me across the street to a cosmetics and drug store called "Watson's".  It's a modern chain store that has a great selection of all a lady or sick person could want along with a cooler and shelves with soft drinks, "Watson's Tonic" and "Watson's Club Soda".  Of course, why didn't I think to look for tonic in a shampoo store?  At last, a proper cocktail!
Wal Mart carries bacon here, but it's not smoked, so it's just salty, fatty pork.  However, after all this time, I finally got my hands on some of the real stuff.  Gaynor had also found what she refers to as the "foreign shop".  She has been able to get mustard, Parmesan cheese, butter, and other things there.  She finally took me there the other day, since it's impossible to give directions to it.
It's in an old part of town near the waterfront.  We went down some narrow, crowded streets with various wares overflowing shops onto the sidewalks.  The store is a hole in the wall that looks more like a dysfunctional restaurant store room than a food store.  It's actually a food wholesaler with mostly Chinese products.  The products are in dusty boxes randomly scattered and stacked everywhere.  Half the place is full of bags of rice and flour piled high.  You go digging through until you find something you might want.  They do have a little chest freezer in the back with New Zealand butter (can't get butter anywhere else),  mozzarella cheese, Edam cheese, and real smoked bacon.  The bacon is Chinese and made in a region that specializes in smoked meats.  I left with some French's mustard, curry paste from India, Parmesan cheese, some beef soup base, and bacon.  The prices were great.  We have since had BLT's, beef and veggie soup, and some coconut curried chicken.  I'm a happy little cook now.