In 2019, the first week of October was a Golden Week. This is when the Chinese government shuffles around weekends to arrange 7 consecutive days off work around an important holiday.
The weather is still pretty good here.
Tuesday (October 1) was National Day. I had done my grocery shopping the day before and fully intended not to leave the house... but in the morning i discovered i only had a couple more spoons of coffee, so went on a mission.
Import coffee - 90元 ~ 11.5€
In China, Starbucks is one of the few places where you can buy ground coffee beans.
On the way home i stopped at what is called a 糖水 (táng shuǐ) or tong sui shop. They sell sweet soups and jelly desserts.
Because i had forgotten to start taking photos for the week, i didn't get a photo of what i ate, but here is a photo from April of a similar thing - coconut milk, grass jelly and sea coconut.
Tong sui - 9元 ~ 1.15€
In reality i ordered pearl sago instead of grass jelly this time, so you will have to imagine it with thousands of little pearl sago balls and no black jelly cubes.
On Wednesday although i had coffee, i had run out of tea. D'oh! At the convenience store downstairs for some reason they didn't have any of my usual sweet green tea, so i bought honey jasmine instead.
Bottle of tea - 4.5元 ~ 0.6€
Also, because i was hungover, i ordered in.
Chinese delivery, 3 dishes - 57.6元 ~ 7.35€
Left to right: 土豆片 (tǔ dòu piàn), 油麦菜 (yóu mài cài), 芹菜香干 (qín cài xiāng gān). In English: potato slices, celtuce leaves, celery/smoked tofu. There are lots of chilis in there because this is Hunan cuisine, which is often very spicy.
Thursday i cooked a big lunch so just went out to pick up some fruit for dinner.
Bananas, fruit salad, big bottle of tea - 18.3元 ~ 2.35€
The little bananas are called 米蕉 (mǐ jiāo), which are harder and more berry-flavored than Cavendish bananas. In the fruit salad is: grapes, mango, dragonfruit, tangerine, pomegranate, honeydew melon, guava, cucumber and cherry tomato.
The big bottle is my cold drink of choice in China. You can find it in Asian supermarkets all over the world. It's a Taiwanese brand called 康师傅 (kāng shī fu), and they make many different flavors of ice tea. This one is sweet green tea.
I also bought a 锅盔 (guō kuī). What is a guokui?
Large guokui - 9元 ~ 1.15€
A guokui is something like a Chinese roti. Literally translated it means "pot helmet". It is a flat bread cooked against the wall of a metal cauldron. They usually roll some kind of flavoring inside it. This one had 梅干菜 (méi gān cài), which is sort of a fermented dried pickle that tastes like Marmite.
Friday i headed out to the supermarket to buy supplies. On the way i stopped at 沙县小吃 (shā xiàn xiǎo chī), which is a cheap eatery found in urban villages and industrial districts all over China.
Noodles and tofu - 9元 ~ 1.15€
I ordered 拌面 (bàn miàn), which is just noodles in sauce with greens. Each place does it different. At this place the sauce is peanut and the greens is lettuce. The tofu is a five spice duck skin style stewed tofu, very delicious. Note the chili. This is Fujian cuisine, which is normally fairly mild, but in Shenzhen they always have chili on the table for migrant workers from Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou etc.
On to the market!
Grocery haul #1 - 56+19 = 75元 ~ 9.55€
Clockwise from the bottom: garlic, ginger, chilis, bitter melon, carrots, tangerines, Laoganma black bean chili sauce, ong choy, seaweed rice crackers, Tsingtao beer, mo, dried mango, napa cabbage, tea smoked tofu, silky tofu, fruit jelly cup.
To be clear, 蕹菜 ong choy is the Cantonese name for 空心菜 (kōng xīn cài), which is also called water spinach in English. It's one of my favorite vegetables. It grows like reeds in the wetlands. The literal translation of the Standard Chinese is "hollow vegetable", which is a good description. When you cook it, all the sauce gets sucked up into the holes. Great texture.
馍 (mó) is the other thing you may not recognize. It is a Chinese bread that is mostly famous for being the bread in 肉夹馍 (ròu jiā mó) aka "Chinese burger". It's something like a thick, heavy pita.
Friday was also the only day this week i decided to go out and explore. I went for a walk down the river, then cut through a park. Just outside the park was a lady by the side of the road selling refreshments, so i picked up a serving of 凉粉 (liáng fěn).
Grass jelly = 3元 ~ 0.4€
It is difficult to describe grass jelly. It's slippery and soft and usually chilled. It's slightly bitter, which is why there is a bit of sugar sprinkled on top. Yum.
After pausing to snack, i biked over to a mountain to continue my adventure. I reached the peak just as the sun was setting. It's still over 30°C here and very humid, so i had drank all the water and eaten all the tangerines i had taken along for supplies. I was lucky to catch a lady just closing up the kiosk.
Bottle water = 4元 ~ 0.5€
I hiked back down the mountain with my watery prize then got on a share bike home. Along the way i remembered that in the next village over from my village there is a lady who makes 饼 (bǐng). I was craving 酱香饼 (jiàng xiāng bǐng), a thick and spicy cilantro pancake, but she was sold out. Instead i got something more well-known overseas: 葱油饼 (cōng yóu bǐng).
Spring onion pancake = 3元 ~ 0.4€
Yes of course i added chili sauce.
Saturday i didn't buy anything, i just cooked my own stuff. Sunday i cooked dinner, but i was super-lazy in the morning and ordered in for breakfast.
Chinese delivery, 3 dishes - 27.5元 ~ 3.5€
Clockwise from top: 黑米粥 (hēi mǐ zhōu), 香菇青菜包 (xiāng gū qīng cài bāo), 发糕 (fā gāo). In English that is black rice congee, shiitake bok choy steamed bun, sponge cake.
In case you are not familiar with congee, it is just rice porridge. The most popular ones in restaurants overseas tend to have offal or seafood inside, but here you can also buy sweet versions, which i like a lot better. One of my favorites is black rice congee. It has some red bean and jujube flavor but mostly it's just a hearty bowl of plumper, chewier rice. Very delicious.
Today is Monday and the end of Golden Week. Tomorrow i have to go back to work! To prepare for the week ahead, i did another grocery run.
Grocery haul #2 - 71.5+19.2 = 90.7元 ~ 11.55€
Clockwise from the bottom: fruit salad, tangerines, silky tofu, smoked tofu, red peanuts, sweet green tea, jasmine tea, toilet rolls, dried mango, seaweed rice crackers, ginger, garlic, mo, choy sum, napa cabbage.
Another clarification: 菜心 choy sum is the Cantonese name for the same word in Standard Chinese 菜心 (cài xīn), which i think they call Chinese broccoli in restaurants overseas.
This fruit salad today had grapes, plums, tangerine, apple, dragonfruit, cantaloupe melon, mango and pawpaw.
I got another guokui, regular flavor (chives) this time.
Guokui - 6元 ~ 0.75€
Something cool about this week, and every week in China, is that i did not use cash or card for anything. Everything was bought using Alipay, which is a mobile payment solution where you just scan a code. It's scary that Alibaba knows literally everything i buy, but it's also convenient because inside the app i can see that i spent about 3500元 this week.
Wait, what, 3500元?
Here is my bonus photo. Because it is start of the month, i also paid rent:
Rent and utilities - 2955.6元 ~ 376.85€
Itemized: 2700元 rent, 38.4元 hot water, 8元 cold water, 109.2元 electric, 100元 management fee. The two blank lines are cable TV and internet, which i do not have.
I always tether to my phone (4G) to get internet at home. It costs me 1元 per gigabyte, and depending on how much i am streaming or downloading it can be anywhere from 1-5GB a day. On Saturday i topped up my credit with 100元 (100GB) so that should do me for a month or two.
So excluding rent, utilities and phone, my weekly total was just over 400元 or 51€. It would have been a little more if i was going to work because i go out for lunch every day (~15元), but this is a decent picture of a week in my shopping life.
There is a lot of single use plastic in these photos and that makes me sad.