Today we finally let ourselves shop at the European grocery stores in Suzhou, which are notably more expensive but have products we recognize (and really miss!).
First we went to Metro. (Link: http://www.metro.com.cn/en) This is a German chain store with a huge following in China. It was warehouse style like Sam’s Club, but better organized. Membership is free, so we both joined. We found some really terrific things. Most notably, we found…
- JetDry for our dishwasher – yep, our apartment has one, but we haven’t been able to use it because “dishwasher soap” means soap with which you hand wash your dishes to every Chinese person we have talked to.
- milk from New Zealand – there are lots of food problems in China, but we are buying all our milk products as imports because this category of food stuffs presents some serious concerns.
- water from Italy – the other big problem not a lot of people talk about is how the filtered/bottled water you can buy in China is not actually regulated or monitored… so you could be getting tap water, which isn’t actually safe to drink.
- Microwave popcorn – YES! my favorite snack. I haven’t been able to find any popcorn seeds to pop myself yet, which is weird, but all the pre-popped stuff here is sweet and not salty, so we found some Act II (not my favorite US brand, but it’ll do!)
We had hoped they would take our American credit card, but no luck there. A sign said they accepted Apple Pay, but we tried that and it didn’t work. Once I get my bank problems resolved money in the form of RMB shouldn’t be much of a problem, but until then we’re really careful about how much we’re spending. Today’s Metro load was 273 RMB or roughly $41. Not bad.
Then we made our way home because we were positively starving (not a good state in which to shop for food on a limited budget!). We ate dinner at MeisterBrau, which is a western-owned German themed restaurant (but they sell other western food like quesadillas and pizza… which seem popular here). Our food there was AMAZING: cheese brats, sauerkraut, potatoes, and beer (which was cheaper than water or Coke).
Once we had fueled up, we walked to EuroMart, which we had been trying to avoid until now because we know we can get familiar things there… but we also know that they are far more costly. Sigh. So we had what remained of our list to find at EuroMart. (Link: http://www.euromart.cn/en/) Notable finds include
- Cascade dishwasher machine powder! – yes, I have to say “dishwasher machine powder” because otherwise everyone here thinks it’s just for hand washing your dishes. This is a HUGE win, though, because we have the darned machine and we want to use it. So American of us, I know.
- persimmons! – I’ve been missing fresh fruit so much. I got three bananas and then found persimmons at a price per kilo. I got six and I am so excited to eat them. I haven’t had them since I was in Japan last December.
- Teriyaki sauce! – we can find at least 40 kinds of soy sauce in Sam’s Club, but nothing like what we’d like to use with some stir fried veggies and rice. This classic Kikkoman will do.
- Pancake syrup! – I found pancake mix at Sam’s and got excited about making something special, but realized we didn’t have syrup much later. Not a problem anymore!
We spent about 255 RMB, which is about $38. We now have a reasonably stocked kitchen and pantry. It’ll go quickly, but we’re excited to be able to make more of our own food during the week. Honestly, eating out every day gets old. Be sure to check out my Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/grammarissa) to see pictures of our kitchen creations. 🙂