Sunday, April 25, 2010

What happens when an Adoptee walks into a Korean Market?

thankfully... not much.

I have to say, I was a bit apprehensive about this trip. I've been wanting to check out a 'local' Korean Market, but when I say 'local', I'm talking about a 40 minute drive one way. Also, the last time I went into a Korean Market it was years ago when I lived in So Cal and it was a very uncomfortable experience. Granted, I was young, so I was still in my I'm-insecure-about-alot-of-stuff-and-hate-being-outside-of-my-comfort-zone state of mind. But now, being much older wiser, I felt more prepared to make the trip. 

I was trying to be all 'stealth' taking pictures of the Market.
I didn't want people seeing me taking photos with my phone and 
think I was a weirdo, so I tried to make it look like I was texting instead.

Then Claire yelled, "Mom - stop taking pictures!"

so I took a photo of the shopping cart handle instead.

From there I put away the phone, took a deep breath, and starting pushing my cart into the store. As I walked in and looked to my left, I froze... there, right before my eyes... WAS A KOREAN DRAMA VIDEO RENTAL SECTION! I quickly scanned the posters on the walls, and recognized only a couple. I seriously contemplated trying to rent some, but then I realized that they were on VHS, and the chances of me accruing late fees were pretty high. So I moved on to produce.  

The Market was pretty clean an organized. I browsed through the entire store and found some fun stuff. I got confused in the noodle aisle, completely missed the rice, and when I smiled at the 'white' stock guy thinking he'd ask me if I needed help since I must have looked sooo out of place - it dawned on me that I looked liked 90% of the other shoppers in the store. (this market also carries Russian items as well - I know, random right?)

The only 'awkward' moment was when I finally found the rice. I wanted to get some sticky rice and I wasn't sure what brand to get. There was only one brand that I've seen in the grocery store by my house, and the rest were in Korean... with the only english words being 'rice'. Fortunately there was a Korean woman also looking at rice. So I asked her, 'do you by any chance know which one is a good sticky rice?' She looked at me a bit confused, so I instantly freaked in my brain that maybe it isn't called 'sticky rice', but something else. She then said, 'what is it you're trying to make?' 

here's where it got weird

I think I might have slightly panicked. I wanted to just say 'oh nothing in particular, I just like sticky rice' but I also had this fleeting thought that maybe I should explain that I can't read Korean because I'm adopted but I just started making basic Korean food, this is my first time here, I live 40 minutes away, and I'm really excited to find soy bean sprouts. 

So instead, I said:
um... nothing... I've just... this is my first time in a store like this out here.

and no joke
the lady paused... looked at me... and mumbled
as she turned and walked away. 

Hahahahaha! I don't blame her, I came across pretty crazy. But know what was crazier? In the aisle where they sold kitchen utensils they sold 'fashion leggings' right next to the spatulas. I would have taken a picture but I was afraid that it would have been confiscated. 

Here's what I ended up getting:

I only like the radish Kimchi. So I was stoked to find this.
Although... I think I want to try and make it myself.

I bribed Claire into being some-what good by promising the 
Hello Kitty Treats. I got the banana thingys for me 
(I think they're Russian)
not that great... not that great.

I just ran out of chopsticks... and these were the 'round' kind!
only $.99!!! Awesome!

My rice and noodles. 
Not sure how I'll use the noodles... but the rice is delicious :)

The whole reason I went to the Korean Market to begin with.
I came home and tried making the 'side dish' that I've been craving.
Long story short - it stunk. Both literally and taste wise. 
Good thing I got two bags.

Some snacky-snacks. The ones on the right are FABULOUS
But check out the girl on the one on the left!

I bought them just for her!

Anyway - it was fun, but next time I'll bring a list. There's actually another Korean Market that I'd like to see too. They were both highly recommended, so it will be fun to compare the two. Until then, I guess I'll go eat my sticky rice and try making the bean sprouts again.


Kimberly and Ed said...

"snacky-snacks" - I thought I was the only one that used the phrase! I was also afraid to go to the Korean market, but after a couple times with some Asian friends I braved going to the market by myself. I actually like going now and even made two Korean dishes for Kyle's Dol:)

Little Lesiw said...

Oh Kimberly... yet ANOTHER reason why we're meant to be friends! ;)

Jaci said...

I love hearing your stories and I think you are very brave to share your insecurities on your blog. Have fun cooking with the noodles! The ones on the upper right of your photo are my favorite but my husband hates the texture of them. They are most commonly seen when making Japchae. My Korean friend calls them sweet potato noodles but I've always called them glass noodles. The other noodles would be really delicious with jajangmeon (easy to make, but you'll need to make another trip to the market to get bean paste). Wish I could come with you. I love shopping at the Korean market. I even like the smells.

JimandJackie said...

I was so nervous too, I was looking for sticky rice, pears, and things P liked, I couldn't find the barley tea...the checker called Parker a girl. Then I realized there was a HUGE diversity in the people there and I was fine the next time!

Nancy said...

We found a great Korean market about 30 minutes from our house! They also have a restaurant attached and you can get a delicious Korean lunch or dinner for $5-$7 each meal. Next time you go, see if they have Melon Bars. They are soooooo good! Should be in the freezer section by the ice cream and confections.

When I go w/o Soowan I always get weird looks and stared at. I smile really big and say "Hi!" to everyone who glazes at me and the kids. I think I scare some people a bit with my cheerfulness. When Soowan goes with me, people tend to smile more and tell me my kids are good looking. :)

Ellen said...

We have several Korean shops locally, but they are sort of hole-in-the-walls, not nearly as nice as what you showed in your picture, so I have not been brave enough yet to go in.

I keep saying I am going to stop by, but I am concerned I will buy something completely off the wall, not being able to read the packages. I could just see myself picking up something completely bizzare!

Oh well...I am inspired by your blog and stories...maybe I will have to stop in next week and try to cook something new!

Anonymous said...

Great, now I feel I must attempt going to the Korean market. Won't matter what I get, seems to be the same when I am in Korea, I never know what to get. I have many cookbooks on Korean cooking, so why am I not using them? Because my family does not like the smells...oh brother. Thank goodness I will get kimchi this Friday at the Korean saver...

Anonymous said...

Very brave to walk into the unfamiliar and push throuh your comfort zone! My similar experience would be walking into a Chinese supermarket, although I blended in the crowd, they gave me weird looks when I asked questions in English and was spoken to in Chinese. Lol.

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