Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stocking Up

I'm writing this from the comfort of my parents' home in Toronto, Canada. That's right, I'm not in China! My sister is getting married and I'm here for a very short visit (2 weeks), leaving my beloved hubby at home in China to fend for himself. While I'm here, I've gone shopping several times, stocking up on goodies to bring back to the ol' Middle Kingdom. There are so many ingredients that are common in your average supermarket in Canada that are rarities in Xiamen. When we lived in Shanghai, many of these ingredients were available. But in our current location, a smaller city with a smaller expat population, many of these things are available only at Metro (a 1 hour trip each way on the bus for us), or not at all. So for those of you contemplating living abroad, or expats who are going home for a visit, here's a list of groceries to find and pack. Remember to try and find relatively "light" packaging as your abundance of delicious food may put you over the airline's weight limit!

  • vitamins and mineral supplements
  • dried cranberries (I use these in everything from salads to baked goods)
  • dried herbs and spices (oregano, thyme, basil, bay leaves, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, sage, paprika, cumin, curry powder, etc... These are often available in sturdy resealable bags, nice and light for your journey!)
  • flavourings (vanilla, almond, peppermint, anise, coconut extracts)
  • paper muffin cups
  • flavoured western teas
  • dried mexican black beans
  • sun-dried tomatoes (a little bit goes a long way)
  • steak seasoning
  • cream of tartar (in the absence of cream, this is useful for cake icings and whipped topping)
  • confectioner's sugar
  • active dry yeast
  • cheesecloth and parchment paper
  • food coloring (for icings), cake decorations
  • double acting baking powder (I think the local Chinese baking powder is single-acting)
  • red wine and sherry vinegars
  • a good quality whisk and silicone spatula
  • capers
  • MSG-free bouillon cubes, Knorr soup mixes, dressing mixes, etc...
  • poppy seeds, flax seeds
  • black peppercorns and sea salt with grinders
  • bulgur wheat, couscous, other specialty "grains"
  • ground coffee and a French press
Ok, I know that's a LOT. And when I think of more I'll add more in. When I came back to Canada this time, I brought a duffel bag and an extra suitcase just to put all the goodies in. I would also suggest buying a couple of thick thirsty towels for your bathroom (towels in China are paper thin). I'm also bringing home Dove shampoo and conditioner. While they do have those in Hong Kong, for some reason they don't have them in China, and Dove conditioner is the only thing that keeps my hair from becoming a parched mess.

Some of these things you can get at large international chain supermarkets such as Carrefour or Metro, depending on where you live in China, but unfortunately for us, Metro is far away and Carrefour doesn't stock much imported food. Once, I went to Carrefour, and they were out of both BUTTER and CHEESE. Sad, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait till your home so I can eat all that delicious food! And because I miss you :)