The Christian Science Monitor

Slice of life: A reporter's search for knives in Beijing

A Chinese chef’s knife, or caidao, is used for everything from slicing meat and chopping bok choy to peeling ginger and smashing garlic. The author purchased this knife after a lengthy search in Beijing. For the last several years, these traditional cleaver-like knives, which are used in most Chinese households, can only be sold in special shops. Buyers are officially required to register their names and ID card numbers. Source: Ann Scott Tyson/The Christian Science Monitor

Two days after landing back in China, I am wandering through a bustling Beijing supermarket like a child in a candy shop, snatching up the spices and fresh ingredients I need to cook favorite Chinese dishes.

The mood in the market is equally festive, as it is the eve of China’s Oct. 1 National Day and the “Golden Week” holiday – a rare official seven-day respite from work. Fellow shoppers go out of their way to help this Mandarin-speaking American find the silkiest variety of tofu, the fragrant (but not too costly) rice, and the spiciest bean paste. Having lived in Beijing and Hong Kong as a young reporter, I’d learned to love homestyle Chinese food.

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