Monthly Archives: May 2014
For a fruit seller in China, it’s impossible to deny that the hours and the work are demanding. And yet you can see by the smile on her face that Zheng Hui (郑慧), a fruit shop owner in my local market, is a woman who loves her occupation.
Demanding would be an understatement. Her normal workday begins with a drive together with her husband to her distributors in a fruit market in Jin Ma Zheng Chang Village(金马正昌) near Ju Hua Cun (菊花村)each morning at 5am. Her shop closes when the market shuts down at about 8:30pm: 7/365, no days off!
It’s not easy to find good tasting fruit, even though Kunming is very close to the fruit farming areas. Zheng’s challenge is to find the best fruit at the best price. How she does this each day is truly amazing but she has four criteria. She judged the fruit by its colour, its texture, the place of production and the flavour, tasting each and every batch of fruit before buying.
Although the majority of the work rests on her shoulders, Zheng has trusted helpers to assist in managing the daily jobs that keep the attractive shop running so well. It’s simply too much work for one person. Her husband who runs a flower shop in a nearby market helps her out from time to time in the busy hours and her mother-in-law and father-in-law are often there during the afternoons. As a bystander, it’s easy to tell that she has a wonderful relationship with her family whom she says she loves very much.
Coming from Chongqing in Sichuan Province 5 years ago, her incentive for starting in the fruit business was her love of eating fruit. And she decided to move to Kunming to open a fruit shop because in her words, “Kunming has a lot of fruit.” If she is near the source, that is ‘good fruit’, then she could be successful.
In addition to her trusted family, Zheng has some business partners who are fruit farmers and distributors from different places around the Kunming area. Her distributor lives in Lanyi Village and they have been working together for many years. Over time, they have come to trust each other 100%.
With farming and distribution methods constantly improving in China it’s easy to imagine that she could solve her major difficulty soon. Regarding this, she replies, “You just can’t find good quality fruit everyday for my values customers, that’s my big problem.”
To my amazement, there’s a new method of marketing fruit that’s popped up recently, that of selling fruit on WeChat. It’s hard to imagine that buying fruit without seeing it, touching, smelling and maybe even tasting it, but this movement is starting to take hold in certain areas around university campuses.
It’s hard to beat coming to her shop though. Zheng is always happy and smiling and as a regular customer, it makes you feel so good. With her prices fair, her advice honest, and being able to buy delicious fruit and nuts from her, I am fortunate that I found her! It’s quite true when she says the thing she likes most about her business is that it gives her the opportunity to get to know more people and become good friends. Certainly, beyond just being a loyal customer, she’s got a friend in me!
Watch for the second in my series of Chinese Cuisine cookbooks, “Roz Weitzman’s World of Yunnan Cuisine”, to be published shortly on Lulu.com, Amazon.com, iBooks.com and in soft cover through http://www.rozweitzmansworld.com.