Getting provisions in China may sometimes be a less than straightforward affair.
For example. Plagued by my nostalgia for home food and something sweet-but-not-cloying, I set out to find some jam. Major disappointment: everything that was available consisted mainly of sugar, with fruits somewhere far down the ingredients list. Okay. I may be nostalgic, but I’m also spoiled by Mummy’s homemade jams and Daddy’s health obsession, so I think it will be a long time before I get that desperate. I could of course go for the truly delicious French Dalfour jams that we also have in Poland, sweetened with natural grape juice, but they’re very pricey. A 300 ml jar for about 27 RMB? Sadly, but no, thank you.
So what to do?
Here’s what I’ve found:
It’s pomelo marmalade (yes, actually consisting mostly of pomelo!), slightly tart in taste and really yummy. 1 litre jar for about 34 RMB, which is a really good price. In case you’re wondering: no, it’s not an unexpected miracle of Chinese food industry. It’s Korean. But anyway, what’s so confusing about it? Well, what it says on the package (even in English, if you have good eyes) is not ‘Pomelo Jam’ at all. It’s ‘Pomelo TEA’. You’re supposed to put it in hot or cold water or your tea and drink it. Consuming it on a piece of buttered toast was entirely my own daring idea.
On the other hand, when it comes to tea. Hangzhou is well known for its Longjing variety (meaning Dragon Well – thence the name of the blog), so you get tea shops everywhere, but as a local speciality Longjing can be a bit on the expensive side. Anyhow, this particular tea-lover prefers to go for pu’erh tea (that’s the kind that looks and tastes like mud until you get used to it and then you’re addicted). It just so happens that my roommate got a stack of high-quality pu’erh tea from her dad. It looks like this:
And what does it say on it? That’s right. It says ‘Pu’erh COOKIE’. And since it was part of a Mid-Autumn Festival gift box with mooncakes, I did actually assume it was some strange sort of massive tea-flavoured cookie (after all you do get green tea ice-creams!). I was even a tad disappointed when it turned out that nope, it’s just pressed pu’erh tea. Why does it have to be pressed, I’ve no idea (notice that even when you buy it abroad, it’s usually in the form of little pressed blocks), but I’m hoping to find out soon.
To sum up. In China, when I want jam, I buy tea, and when I want tea, I go for a cookie. Simple? Very.