Where we are from, not just the place, also the way of life, food shopping was a mundane rushed affair.
Getting in your car.
Driving to the supermarket.
Hurriedly buying mass produced food, from anonymous employees who work for a big corporation.
Stuffing it in a few bags & heading home.
I suppose it could be the same here in Siberian China where we now find ourselves.
There are massive malls with escelators, food courts & whole floors occupied with a single product.
It was quite overwhelming to go shopping for shoes suited to the weather.
It took us a whole day to browse the 40 stores grouped together on the 1st floor of the Newmart Mall.
We found great value & awesome product.
These malls all have grocery stores as well.
With a selection beyond comprehension.
Zuko, however, have discovered the markets right on our doorstep.
And along with them, she’s discovered a beautiful daily ritual.
Walking to them.
Picking the day’s fruit, vegetables & meat.
While talking to shop owners.
Learning the names of produce.
Exploring new varieties.
Discovering new gems.
Meeting new people.
Tasting new ideas.
Perhaps this is something lost in a rushed western existence.
Every neighbourhood has these markets.
Some with fruit.
Others with vegetables.
Some with bread and rice and meat and beans.
More still with cooldrink and beer, rice wine, floor cleaner and dish washing liquid.
Here in China they’re not called neighbourhoods.
They speak of communities.
Five or six apartment blocks, with two or three play parks.
A daycare centre.
A billiards room.
It isn’t green, like in Africa.
Not right now.
But it is warm.
A place where people greet you friendly.
With a smile.
And have whole conversations.
Even though you don’t understand each other.
Perhaps this is part of the gift of living in the cold of Northern China.
Walking to the market.
Choosing the day’s food.
Carefully set out.
Bringing it home.
Perhaps this changes meals?
Into something more?
It certainly makes life richer.
As intimacy & a slower pace collide with beautiful food & beautiful people.