So first of all let me preface this by saying I am really enjoying Shanghai. I love that it was 81 degrees today on October 26th. I love how accessible the city is and how easy it is to meet people. I have even reached a ceasefire in my somewhat fraught and acrimonious relationship with Shanghai taxi drivers (the experience with the one who cussed me out las week was pleasantly balanced by the one who did a great job of telling me the cost of the trip and Thank You in MY LANGUAGE and then apologized for his poor English (Me: NO NO NOT AT ALL!! YOU’RE GREAT! REALLY YOU ARE!))
And I have TRIED, guys. Yall know that I am a person who has NO problem expressing disgust and contempt but I have tried to keep a completely open mind and not come running to the blog when things that…I am not used to…occur. I haven’t commented, about the pushiness on the Shanghai subway travellers and how “let people OUT of the train before you RUSH IN” is NOT a universal subway rule…apparently. I don’t say anything about the disgusting habit of SOME Chinese men of loudly hawking phlegm from the back of their throats and then spitting it on to the pavement, lest you come away with a negative view of Chinese men in general. I said NOTHING when that lady held her female baby above the sewer grate in front my building encouraging her to pee. What a convenient solution! And I haven’t even commented on the multiple times I have seen vomit here in public places (which is LOTS in only 2 months) and for those who know me know how MUCH of an evolution that is for me. (For those who don’t, this girl is my soulmate).
NO. I have mentioned NONE of it on my blog.
But what I saw today cannot go without mentioning.
It took place at the grocery store. Being a foreign person with no Mandarin language skills whatsoever, I patronize a large international grocery chain, the French Carrefour. Regardless of it being international, in order to cater to the Chinese market, the place can be overwhelming. I enjoy playing my two new favourite grocery games “Do They Have It?” (for my favourite imported items that appear and disappear from week to week) and “What Tha Eff Is It?” (for local items of course).
So at Carrefour, fruits, vegetables, dried meats, fresh meats, seafood, crabs, large frogs, eels, other scary shit are all in the same large area upstairs. A lot of stuff is uncovered. And there are flies. I have discovered that the flies’ favourite landing strip is on the dried shrimp which are just open to the elements and fishy smelling. I cannot confess that I have ever seen anyone actually parttake in these dried shrimp.
What I also discovered is the flies’ second favourite spot is the prepared food section. Here you can buy roast chicken or duck (pre-packaged), fried noodles to order in which they stir fry your favourite type of noodles in front of you with pak choi and Asian white cabbage, dumplings (open), soup (pre-packaged) and…other stuff, all open. I decided to try the fried noodles as I have never been able to say no to some good pak choi. As the lady stir fried away I couldn’t help noticing how GROSS the floor of this section of the grocery was on the opposite side of the prepared foods section (this is the same grocery in which they always mopping under the customers foot tho. In the US that is ASKING for a lawsuit. But where there employees work and prepare food?? It looks like no mopping has taken place since the 80’s).
Anyway, I told myself what I tell myself when buying food in St. James. It’s not that serious. It’s “quite over there”. I saw the woman pull all the veggies and noodles out of this covered glass case with no flies with my own two eyes and she hasn’t been out of my sight.
Up runs ANOTHER Carrefour worker with her ears covered and screeching what I translated as the Mandarin version of “OHGADOY OHGADOY AH CYAH MAKE AH CYAH MAKE!!” My stir fry lady just smiled and laughed at her. But I couldn’t help noticing that the group of them were now glancing over to that unmopped area on the opposite side. Until one of them exasperatedly huffed past, picked up a tissue, PICKED UP SOMETHING OFF THE FLOOR OF THE UNMOPPED AREA AND PUT IT INTO A DUSTBIN (trashcan…whatever).
AND THEN WENT BACK TO DOING HER WORK. No hand washing. No hand sanitizing wipes. NUTTING!
My mind works quite quickly. Immediately I was like “THAT SHIT BETTER NOT HAVE BEEN A MOUSE UP IN THIS GROCERY”. I didn’t see but I am 135% sure that it was. In the GROCERY THO?? This is NOT the street food vendor. THIS IS THE GROCERY!!! This is not a fruit an veggie stall! THIS IS THE GROCERY!!
I made my way SWIFTLY out of that grocery and I am NEVER EVER purchasing anything perishable or unpackaged from them again.
And I know what yall are thinking? Did I still take the noodles? YES I DID for the aforementioned reasons and cause I was hungry as all hell. And it kinda lash. Lol. Not so much though that I am EVER going back to that prepared food section again.
And as we talking about grossness and noodles. Here’s a gratuitous link to my favourite blog article ever – THE MEAT MAN! Well actually its a link ABOUT my favourite blog article ever. For some reason I can’t seem to find the original. Anyway…Thank me later.
Oh and just to get those awful images out of your head, thought I would leave you with some more pleasant images of the Chinese grocery experience: the floral teas!