Monday, February 6, 2012

How We Got a Nut Cracker

I have a story for you. It all started two weeks ago around the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Kevin and I had been buying whole walnuts from these XinJiang people down the road from the veggie market. Since our walnut obsession began we have been trolling the city looking for good prices and good quality (generally when we approach the price goes up).

So some quick background. Chinese measure things in Jins. 1 Jin is approximately 1.1 pounds, so pretty close. Most walnut places we've been to have offered un-shelled walnuts for 25-30 kuai a Jin (about 4-5 dollars). The XinJiang people offer theirs for 22 kuai (~3 dollars) and are the best quality we've found.

Before Kevin showed me the intelligent method, I had been cracking these walnuts open by any method necessary- hitting it against things, biting it, etc. Then Kevin tries them for the first time, takes two in his hands, and smashes them against each other which cracks it perfectly. It's still a little difficult and you can cut your hand on the sharp walnut shells,  but it works pretty well.

So we had been buying walnuts by the Jin for a few weeks (they're always in the same place, right next to the lady who will let you pick a chicken, kill it, blanch it, and de-feather it right in front of you), when we decided to buy in bulk. The XinJiangers would be going home for the New Year (XinJiang is in the North West of China, far away) and when they found out that we wanted to buy in bulk they offered to give us a discount of 2 kuai a Jin.

We figured that it would be pretty good, so we decided to get 5 Jins, making it a round 100 kuai (15 dollars). However when they started putting the walnuts in a bag to weigh, they discovered that they only had about 7 Jins left. They insisted that they couldn't sell only 2 Jins of walnuts, and that they were leaving the next day, so therefore we should get the whole 7 Jins. We didn't really want to spend more than 100 kuai (the smart move would have been to say that I only had 100 kuai, but hey, hindsight is always 20/20), but they kept insisting, and bringing down the price, and insisting. So finally I gave in and we got 7 Jins of unshelled walnuts for 130 kuai and their nut cracker.

It was the nut cracker that sealed the deal. Good grip, big and small cracking hole, and a story to go with it. We still have about 4 Jins of walnuts in the cupboard waiting to be cracked, but this cracker is definitely coming home with us.


P.S. Here are some random pictures that I just thought needed sharing :)

Growing Bok Choy among garbage
Chinese version of a dam!

The moon is upside down!!! 

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