I was out at dinner the other night at a little natural/healthy food restaurant in Tianzifang when I mentioned how much I missed avocados. The restaurant (Origin) did have avocados on the menu and I actually ordered some to go on my delicious sandwich. When I mentioned missing them someone at the table said, “You need to go see the avocado lady!”
The avocado lady? Oh yea, I think I had read something about her before. The 6 of us at the table then starting discussing the avocado lady, where she was located and what she sold. Apparently, she has just about everything. At 274 Wulumuqi Lu, it looks like your typical Chinese produce store, I was told, but it is packed with foreigners. When you go inside you realize the avocado lady is famous for much more than just her avocados.
Famous? Really, Julia? Can a little Chinese woman really be famous because she sells avocados in Shanghai? Don’t believe me, do what I did and Google “Shanghai avocado lady” and see what comes up. She indeed is famous.
So late this morning I headed over, I noticed the dark clouds in the sky but I was already out – it was only one subway stop out of my way and I really wanted to see what the avocado lady had to offer. It was starting to rain as I walked a couple blocks from the subway (Changshu Lu) to her store, when I got there all the legends came true. Despite the rain, many foreigners were visiting her. She had the best selection of produce I think I have ever seen in China and just about anything else a little foreign heart could desire.
Once I was there, the downpour started. I quickly decided on a few things to buy, I didn’t have much money on me and had to carry everything home. But I was without an umbrella and it was POURING. I hoped it would quickly blow over and the avocado lady was happy to let me hang out for awhile. Several foreigners came in and out while I was there. One was ecstatic to learn there were dried lentils for sale. Another had moved to town 3 days earlier and already was a regular customer.
What does the avocado lady have, beside avocados and produce? Well, I got some Campbells tomato soup, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, avocados, mangoes, and edamame. She had olives, tuna in a can, olive oil, truffle oil, artichoke hearts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, fresh basil and rosemary, cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, kidney beans, soy milk, Tabasco sauce, REAL maple syrup, cereal, imported wine…. just to name a few things.
The girl who had just moved to town said the lady even pulled Vegemite out of a back corner for her once. Not only does the avocado lady have it all, she speaks English and sells everything at a decent price – unlike the high end grocery stores in Shanghai cholk full of imported items. Above all, she is friendly! After about 20 minutes of me waiting out the pouring rain, she handed me an umbrella and insisted I took it, saying in English, “I trust you.”
The avocado lady is a smart one too, not only does she know what us laowai want – but she knows we will keep coming back. I will definitely be back to visit her, buy some treats and bring back her umbrella.
I was very thankful for that umbrella, as when I got off the subway by my apartment it was raining ever harder. It helped keep me dry, at least from the waist up, as I walked down the
creek street to my apartment. Second storm in two days… and I have a feeling it will get worse: