There are several perfectly good supermarkets here in Baiyin. They stock a wide range of products and produce and mostly I can buy what I want.
But they never seem to have that section we see in British supermarkets where there are rows of herbs and spices in jars (and refills in packets) in a bewildering array of varieties.
It's possible to buy curry powder, garlic and ginger but it's a very rare supermarket indeed that goes much beyond that in spices - and the herb section doesn't exist at all.
So, when I say that I miss spice racks, I'm not refering to the kitchen variety wooden things where you keep your purchase - I'm talking about the place where you make those purchases in the first place.
Bit of rosemary or mint for your lamb? You won't find it!
Touch of basil in the tomato soup? Best of luck!
Fennel? Forget it!
Thyme? Think again!
Parsley? Pretty unlikely!
Now, I daresay there are markets where some of these things - more likely the spices than the herbs - are available but they will be available loose from sacks behind the counter and when you don't speak the language that makes things difficult. I did try using my dictionary once to buy coriander. I was in a market and I could smell it so I knew there was some somewhere but the translation on my phone must have been faulty as it met only head-shakes and lack of comprehension when I showed it to trader after trader.
I could probably have tracked it down if I'd had a bloodhound with me but short of that I couldn't manage the trick.
How much simpler it is in England to just look in the cupboard, see what I'm short of and grab it from a supermarket shelf. I do miss spice racks.