“Don’t tell anyone you bought them here!”

Two blocks away from our compound there is a wet market where all the old ladies from the neighbourhood go shopping. Sometimes I also go there, as the fruits sold in supermarkets are not very good. The prices are more or less the same as in the supermarket; it is not one of those loud and cheap wet markets, we don’t have any of those around as we live in a very modern district. (If we had I would totally go, I’m a cheapskate).

So this market has two floors. In the ground floor you can buy vegetables and meat; in the second floor there are the fruit stalls. You can also find some small stalls with eggs, spices, grains, and the like.

On my last visit to this market I went first to the second floor to buy some fruit. Then I went down to the ground floor to buy potatoes. When I was there I suddenly remembered that I had lettuce at home and I could make a salad for dinner, so I asked the grocer if she had cherry tomatoes. She looked a bit puzzled.

Grocer: “How many do you want?”

Me: “I don’t know, let me see them first”.

The cherry tomatoes were not on display with the rest of the veggies, they were in a closed white box in a corner that the grocer opened to let me see. The tomatoes looked fine.

Grocer: “The thing is, cherry tomatoes are sold upstairs, in the fruit stalls. Are you going there now?”

Me: “No, I just came from there”. (Showing her my bag with apples and bananas). “In my home country, cherry tomatoes are considered vegetables, not fruits, so they are sold in vegetable stalls”.

Grocer: “Ok, I’ll sell you a few. But don’t tell anyone! The people upstairs would get mad at me”.

After paying, when she handed me the bags, she told me: “Put the cherry tomatoes in the same bag together with the fruits. And remember, don’t tell anyone you bought them here!”.

I felt like if I was doing something illegal!

The stash (this picture is from a street stall in Wuyuan).


In China, cherry tomatoes are considered a fruit and in some restaurants are served as dessert, in platters with oranges, watermelon, etc.