Since it is fall and canned pumpkin puree isn’t available in the local supermarket, I bought a pumpkin to make my own. I could probably buy imported cans if I went to the bigger import stores on the other side of the city but it is much cheaper and probably more convenient to make it myself. I bought this pumpkin at the supermarket for slightly over $1USD. Once I got it home, I realized I had a problem. I don’t have a good knife to cut it up with. I have a couple of paring knives, but that’s not really the right knife for chopping up a pumpkin.
It isn’t that I forgot about buying a knife or that they don’t exist. This is China, where everything is chopped into bite-sized pieces before it gets cooked. And yet, so far, finding a knife to buy has seemed a bit elusive. I have seen knives on IKEA’s website, but not in my browsing of the store. I have looked in supermarkets, but they aren’t with the other kitchen utensils or anywhere else I’ve seen. I asked a clerk and she said they didn’t have them (but might at night? I didn’t quite catch the follow-up to “we don’t have them”). I have seen them behind locked cabinets in a couple of bigger stores—but there haven’t been sales associates available at the time I was looking. I’m sure knives are available here, but I haven’t cracked the code of finding them yet.
I don’t know for sure why knives are so hard to find. I don’t remember having this problem when I lived in China before. At least in my memory, knives were right there in the kitchen utensils section of the local supermarket. I suspect (and this could easily be wrong) it is for safety. In the last few years, people who have perpetrated violence have often used knives. There have been several high profile knife attacks in public places like a school and train station. Guns are very difficult to get here, but knives are available. A possible solution, for safety, seems to be making it harder to buy knives. I’m sure it really isn’t that hard, if you aren’t a clueless foreigner.
Even though, like in every country, there is some violence, China is a very safe country. In fact you are much less likely to be murdered in China than the United States. The murder rate in China per 100,000 people is 1.2. In the United States it is 5 and in Canada it is 2. I feel very safe in China, whether it is walking alone at night or riding the subway or staying at home. I am careful to pay attention to my surroundings, but that is really more for pick-pockets than violent crime (and in all my time in China, I’ve not yet been pick-pocketed). I lock my door, which has two cylinders plus a deadbolt. The most dangerous situations I probably encounter are crossing the street (bikers think traffic rules don’t apply to them) or the air quality.
Since I haven’t cracked the secret knife buying code yet, I did use that paring knife to cut up the pumpkin. I got 2 1/2 cans worth of pumpkin from it, so I’m looking forward to making some delicious pumpkin items soon. I’ll enjoy them while I figure out how to buy a knife.