Two years ago EXACTLY, James and I were buying our consumables for Chengdu.
Ah, memories. I remember it like it was yesterday.
I even blogged about consumables shopping two years ago. And actually, it's really entertaining that I posted a picture with that old blog post from two years ago:
Back then, Consulate Chengdu had no CLO. Back then, there was no one we could turn to for consumables advice. And seeing as it was our first tour overseas, and seeing as that we'd never even been to China before, we were pretty much clueless. And thus totally SCREWED. But that didn't stop me from trying.
Little did I know that the consumables shipment itself would take literally months and months AND MONTHS to reach us in Chengdu. And that the contents of our shipment would get so hot that it would melt glass.
Read that again, you guys, for it is worth repeating. Our shipments got so hot that some of our GLASS? MELTED. Kid you not - my Auntie had long ago given me beautiful, delicate wine glasses that were made of hand-blown glass, and THEY MELTED in our shipment. Not all the way, but some. Enough to show us that our shipment? GOT REALLY REALLY HOT. Was it packed next to (or inside?) a ship's boiler room? Did it pass through the fiery gates of hell itself? We shall never know.
Anyway, upon arrival a whole lot of our stuff in our consumables shipment was already unusable. Raisins? Ruined. How the hell fruit that is already dried gets destroyed I have no idea, but there you have it. They were crystallized and wholly inedible. Microwave popcorn? Ruined. The oils used inside the bag were already rancid. Steel cut oats? Ruined. They overheated and were rancid, also. Nuts such as pecans and almonds? Rancid. Bagged sugar? Solidified.
Most of my canned goods (other than, notably, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, which were already spoiled on arrival) made it with flying colors. In contrast, items in jars (like salsa in jars or spaghetti sauce in jars) were already teetering on bad and didn't make it past another month or two. Organic ketchup was DOA, but normal Heinz ketchup made it. Hoity-toity designer mustard didn't make it... but regular yellow mustard did.
What did I do with all of my ruined items? I wish I could say that I was organized enough to just summarily toss the hell out of them the minute they got here and I realized they were unusable. Alas, I would be lying. Even at this moment, I still have all of those ruined items in my home. Maybe I am embarrassed to throw away what looks, on the outside, to be perfectly good food. Maybe I keep them around so I can wallow in my feelings of failure when I see them every day. Which I do. Many times.
And like unto it...
I think I've given you enough background at this point. Here's the list.
CONSUMABLES THAT WERE TOTAL EPIC FAIL:
Raisins, and any kind of dried fruit
Most anything in glass/plastic jars (other than jam and jelly, which did very well) such as glass jar salsa, glass jar pickles, plastic jar spaghetti sauce, and plastic jar honey (which, like CURDLED or something)
Stupid stuff I bought too much of and don't even use in the US. Why? WHY did I buy eleventy zillion cans of green beans, peas, and corn? I don't use them in the US, why did I think I would use them in China?
Quaker Instant Oatmeal in individual, flavored packets. Already ruined on arrival. And when I didn't throw them out like I should have, they sprouted a zillion pantry bugs that crawled through my house and made babies. Everywhere.
Steel cut oatmeal, even the stuff from Whole Foods packed in what looks like high end paint jars. DOA
Lipton Onion Soup mix (like for chips and dip). Because there's no sour cream in Chengdu.
Protein Powder for frozen fruit smoothies. Because there's no frozen fruit in Chengdu.
Canned evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. All DOA
ALL nuts. ALL were DOA - rancid
Anything Velveeta. DOA in our consumables shipment. And even when we ordered from Amazon, didn't last long enough to get eaten. This includes blocks of Velveeta and Velveeta-based macaroni and cheese.
Bagged flour. If I had frozen it the minute I got it, it might have had a fighting chance. But I didn't have much freezer space, so it got rancid and also sprouted bugs.
Chef Boyardee in pop top cans. The same stuff in regular cans did great, but the small (lunch size?) pop top cans? FAIL.
Organic ketchup. Designer mustard. Both were DOA
Parmesan cheese. Yes, the stuff you can buy off the unrefrigerated shelf in the US. It was BROWN when it got here and reeked. Mega DOA
BBQ sauce. It might have lasted a few months after we got here, especially if stored in the fridge, but not long enough for us to use a whole lot of it, and my fridge is tiny. That included other sauces like teriyaki or whatever.
Microwave popcorn. Again, rancid oils.
Mayonnaise in any container type. Oh my soul, talk about RANCID.
Next time, I will offer you Consumables: EPIC WIN. Because there actually were some things that did well and impressed me.