Pre-Thanksgiving surprise

One of the things I like most about China is that, even though I’ve lived here for two (!!) years now, there are still surprises. For instance, when I found gummy penguins outside my office a couple of weeks ago. And then, in another instance, today, when I was at Wal-Mart after work buying the last of my groceries for Thanksgiving and I saw these babies in the produce section!

Muuuuuuhhhhhhhh.

These were a favorite of mine when I still lived at home and my mommy would qing chao them with some garlic. I called them Old Man squash because, well, that’s what they look like. They are known as chayote in the West and fo shou gua (佛手瓜) in China, or Buddha hand squash. They’re not usually shiny, but I forgot to snap a picture until after I’d peeled the first one. You can kind of see the other one in its wrinkly glory in the back there.

I really didn’t think I’d find it in Beijing ever, just because my mommy said it was a Southern China/SE Asia kind of thing. Chayote actually is native to Mexico and is very popular in Latin and South America, so who knows where these were from. Based on the price though, it seems like it’s a domestic product, but it’s odd I’ve never seen them in the supermarkets or produce stands before. The ones in the U.S. are usually imported from Mexico. It’s a pretty abundant vegetable and relatively inexpensive, but these two cost me 1.24 kuai total (19 cents!) at RMB 3.2 per kilogram. In other words, my dinner tonight cost less than a quarter. That’s got to be a record.

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