Feb 26, 2006

Jenny Lou's grocery store

Jenny Lou's is a small grocery store chain in Beijing specializing in western food. Having traveled to an area where many foreigners congregate (Chaoyang park), I took the opportunity to stop in and see what Jenny Lou's had. If only I had a juicy expat package, I could do all my shopping there. They have sour cream, cottage cheese, western style yoghurt, whipping cream, and numerous European cheeses, all the dairy products you take for granted as normal groceries in America. However, they're extremely hard to find in mainland China, I think partly due to high occurrence of lactose intolerance in Asians, and also because milk products are not traditionally part of Chinese cuisine.

In the store there were blocks of brilliant orange cheddar cheese as large as a small child, coffees from Italy, Africa, and South America, wines from all over the world, and a candy selection to rival any American supermarket. Two workers were handing out paper cup samples of a mediocre California cabernet sauvignon. And how much do things cost? Well, here are some of the things I bought and the prices:

Jell-o, cook and serve, 1 package: 12.80 RMB (US $1.59)
A&W Cream Soda, 12 oz. can: 6 RMB (US $0.75)
Red Vines, 5.5 oz. package: 16.80 RMB (US $2.09)
Sour Patch Kids, 2 oz. package: 8.60 RMB (US $1.07)
Mexican avocado, 1: 15 RMB (US $1.86)

Above: everything the body needs

As you can see, the avocados are sold at the highest premium. The other prices are marked up of course, but within reason. If I were a rich expat with a monthly stipend from my company, these prices would be insignificant, and I'd do all my shopping there. Unfortunately I don't have that luxury yet, but it's still nice to have a place to get the occasional treat.

The careful observer will have noticed that all the food I've listed above is highly sugared and packed with simple carbohydrates. I think it's a byproduct of the fact that, as I mentioned previously, Chinese desserts are undersweetened compared to western standards. To compensate for the sugar-deficiency in Chinese foods, it helps to binge on imported sweets.

Avocados are a hard thing to find in China. Harder to find then limes, which are essential if you're going to be knocking back proper cuba libres at home. Supposedly, avocados are imported from Vietnam, and southeastern China is supposed to have some avocado producing regions, but I've not found them for sale. If anyone knows a place to get them affordably if Beijing, please leave a comment.


Blogger absolutED said...

dude, check out safeway.com. avocado costs $2.99 USD each!!!!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I don't think so. According to http://shop.safeway.com/superstore, "Hass Avocados Mesh Bag. Pre-Packed - 4 Count" are $2.99 USD. That works out to $0.75 each. "Large Hass Avocados - 1 Each" are $0.69.

11:23 PM  

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