One of the things we saw today was pomegranates. They were expensive - $2.70 for one. We didn't get any hoping that they'll drop in the next couple weeks as we fully enter pomegranate season. But even assuming that the pomegranates do get a bit more affordable, I'm sure the market will never offer the quality of pomegranates I had in China.
Xi'an is right next to one of the pomegranate-growing capitals of China - Lintong, Shaanxi. At this time of year in Xi'an, pomegranates straight from the farms are everywhere. They generally range in price from 1 to 5 kuai ($.18 - $.80) depending on the quality. Over the three falls I lived in Xi'an, I became accustomed to having copious amounts of insanely good pomegranates at my disposal.
Talking about my Chinese home town and one of its greatest flavors, I feel as though I should share this great article I saw recently on Twitter painting a picture of Xi'an and Shaanxi Province:
Shaanxi Province is one of China's most interesting. It's the cradle of Chinese civilization. It's topography - largely mountains and loess plateau - is unique. And it's one of the poorest yet fastest-growing provinces in China.
Resource-rich Shaanxi has seen significant developments in the past few years, as this most traditional of Chinese provinces enters a new century full of hope, promise and a gleaming makeover of its capital city, Xi’an.
Like the most attractive of China’s magnets for investment, Shaanxi can rely on more than one component part for attracting development and creating opportunities. Coal supplies are plentiful and of a high quality, while the province also has large reserves of natural gas and oil. While that does give it a more hardened feel to life here, the province also boasts a rich cultural history, and that, coupled with excellence in engineering academia, gives Shaanxi a fairly unique character not found elsewhere in China. From the historical perspective, Shaanxi is considered one of the cradles of Chinese civilization.
Shaanxi’s mineral reserves are ranked the highest of all the provinces in China, and particularly coal, oil, and natural gas. Communist-led education to exploit this over the years has also led to the province having a very strong pool of well educated workers, ranked third in the country, only after Beijing and Shanghai, while most of Shaanxi’s universities – over 50 of them – provide education in many different engineering disciplines from aviation, dam building to coal and gas extraction, much of it pioneering work. Shaanxi has an additional 2,000 science and technology research institutes, and these have taken a leading role in R&D in aerospace, equipment manufacturing, electronics, and agriculture.
Shaanxi’s GDP has been developing well over the last few years, growing at about 12.5 percent per annum since 2004, and with now the expanding secondary sector accounting for 54.9 percent of this figure. Shaanxi’s nominal GDP for 2009 was RMB818.7 billion (US$112 billion) while GDP per capita was RMB21,729 (US$43,179), ranking it 14th in the PRC. The minimum wage in Xi’an is RMB760.
Natural resources are crucial to Shaanxi’s development – the province ranks third in coal production, and fifth in oil production nationwide. A complete industrial system comprising high technology, fruit, animal husbandry, tourism, national defense, energy and chemical industries also developed and is well integrated. Large reserves of natural resources have been a spur to heavy industry such as oil drills, and equipment for mining, railways, petroleum, and chemical processing. In agriculture, the main produce is fruit and grain. Regulations are also in place to encourage investments in infrastructure, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, machinery, electronics, light industry, and building materials. Utilized foreign investment in the province was US$1.2 billion in 2009, and has proven sustainable at about this figure over the past decade.Read On
Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is a place that I'd recommend to any foreigner traveling to China or wanting to live abroad. The pace of life for a big city is very relaxed. Another positive is that Xi'an is not as overrun with foreigners as it seems other coastal cities in China (not that having a thriving ex-pat scene is necessarily a bad thing). There are scores of universities and job opportunities there. And as evidenced by the above article, it's not a bad place to get familiarized with for business purposes.
I'm not sure exactly why I'm writing this post. I suppose seeing pomegranates at the Chinese supermarket reminded me of my Chinese 第二个故乡 (second home). I have such warm memories and such a positive impression of Xi'an and Shaanxi in my mind.