My first time back to Beijing was in 1982. I took my three cousins to dinner at Qianmen (前门) for Xiaomai 烧卖. The restaurant sold steamed buns 包子 too. Having been in Hong Kong for couple of years I forgot all about 粮票, food ration.
After we sat down and ordered, the waitress began to collect money. (Customers pay immediately after ordering.) I was like, ops. I did not have it. I looked out to my cousin. They were all babies. Of course they did not have any. Then the two guys who shared our table looked kind. And food ration was not that big of deal, meaning every one had more than enough. So I asked them if they would sell me a few liang. The food ration went by jin 斤 (1 jin = 500 grams) and liang 两 (10 liang = 1 jin).
“You know what, I can give a jin if you buy this plate of buns.” He pointed to the over-ordered buns.
I did. We ate our order and took his home.