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Feb 1, 2009 06:08 PM

Beijing: Cooking Magazines? in English? American ones?

Okay, I'll admit it. After living in Beijing for 5 years, my pantry is starting to look more and more like... Minnesota?

I'm not an "Expat Wife," nor am I even on an Expat Package; only a single mom of two. I started here at 25K U$ a year and now I'm only doing freelancing, certainly not by choice!
As my income has dwindled and as prices in BJ have increased, I've found that my daughters and I want to eat more and more comfort foods. American comfort foods.
I also want to read about good cooking and techniques-- thanks CH-- but I still crave something to leaf through.

For Christmas, a friend gave me a "cookbook voucher" for ¥200 [or $30ish for my fellow Americans reading along].
We have scoured the bookstores we know -- Foreign Language in WangFuJing, Chaterhouse ShunYi, 2 other places in ShunYi, Chaterhouse@The Place, GaRden Books, the bookstall place in GuoMao Mall at China World, the rack at the Friendship Store, the "¥20 Bookshop" at the WangJing BurnedDown Market...

and, I've found a few that I wanted, all of which were in the ¥800 range.

What I own here:
Sauces, Peterson
The Cook's Book
Cooking From Scratch
and a "pamphlet" style 64 page book of Indian cooking.
...I do a lot of Google-ing that starts "recipe: "

I'm from South Carolina, BTW, so I can already do great down-home cooking if I have the materials. My older daughter will be going to college in a year so I am slowly ramping up her cooking skills-- she shouldn't live off of Ramen and won't be able to afford a Rumi in Cali!

SO, is there a question in all of this?
One or twice I've seen-- and purchased-- the Aussie edition of Gourmet, which lead me to wonder.
Does anyone order and have magazines delivered to Beijing as a "private customer"?
Have any of the BJCHers successfully gotten a store to fulfill their advertised "subscription"

As a side note-- I've also been looking at the US Mailbox forwarding places. At the moment, I just can't swing $100-$300 down and $10-$50 a month to get 4 pounds of mail delivered to me here monthly, particularly since I have a relative who handles my scant mail already in The States so it would be only for magazines. Anybody do THAT?


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  1. My guess would be check out the newsstands/gift shops at major hotels that cater to Westerners. You might find one that carries Gourmet or Saveur of something of that stripe.

    The buzz, incidentally is that Gourmet Magazine may not survive 2009.

    1. Friends get magazines as part of monthly mail packages from their relatives in America; they usually get older issues but it is a great treat for them all the same. Definitely not as expensive as what you quote.

      As for the books, I live in a different city but those prices are astounding - is that after bargaining? I picked up a cookbook recently for Y25, though it is in Chinese. In Chengdu the little bookstores on the side streets usually have a shelf or two of English books, though the selection and quality is pretty unpredictable. (Just got a Stephen King for Y15 and and English version of Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong for Y25). Comparable English books (paperback novels) in big bookstores are Y60-Y100 each, and I've started to do what Chinese people do there - read the books in the stores.

      The main challenge I have found for cooking western food in China is adapting recipes that use a slower electric range to a wok and gas burners. But my idea of comfort food has changed quite a bit since living here, warm soymilk and baozi in the morning feels more normal than toast and oatmeal!

      1 Reply
      1. re: pepper_mil

        Yes, I am a frequenter of the ¥5 roadside books-on-a-sheet guys. The cookbooks I was talking about are things like Jamie Oliver's and other hefty tomes that are a good 400+ pages.
        Yes, Chinese cookbooks, published in the Mainland, on cheap paper, and in Chinese, should be waaaaay under ¥100.

        We also have a similar tradition at the Foreign Language Bookstore in WangFuJing-- read one, buy one or two others.

        I use my rice cooker as a slow cooker: Frozen chicken legs/wings, brown sugar, mustard, tomatoes, shot of ketchup in the morning, fall-off-the-bone BBQ at supper.

        The OP,

      2. What about The Bookworm? I believe they carry magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appetit, and I think Real SImple as well.

        I used to always bring magazines with me whenever I went home, but lately I have also found myself simply relying on the web.

        Another thing that I do to avoid the high prices at Jenny Lou's is go to Sanyuanli (aka Xinyuanli) market. They carry a ton of foreign ingredients for much less than the foreign food markets, and I'm pretty sure that Sanyuanli is where a lot of foreign food markets source their produce.

        1 Reply
        1. re: quirkybeijing

          Haven't looked at The Bookworm in years.

          "SanYuanQiao market" is great-- about a pound of couscous for ¥9 and now the market is "close" to a subway station.

        2. i ask friends to bring Cook's Illustrated, Food & Wine, Saveur, Gourmet, Food Arts, and whole bean COFFEE when the come from the states - i can't justify paying imported rack prices for mags in beijing. as for cookbooks, i can't afford retail priced tomes anyway so I tend to buy second hand or remainder/over-stock when i'm in the US, HK, even in Thailand, then pay the extra luggage fee. actually, there are so many recipes online that i hardly turn to my cookbooks.

          1. I haven't lived in Beijing for a while, so I can't really recommend any local places to get cooking material. But if you have good friends/loved ones in the US who are willing to pick up magazines and books for you, there is a cheap shipping option. Tell them to ship it via the US Postal Service using M-Bag. It will take longer than airmail, but it is a lot cheaper if you're sending printed material in bulk (11 pounds+). Most post office branches have no idea what you're talking about when you say M-bag since it's so underused, so be sure to have them bring a printout of that website just in case. Hope that helps! :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: teaforme

              Current M-Bag rate is $5/lb to China, with an $55 minimum, so it still not exactly cheap.