I just finished Michelle Zauner’s book Crying in H Mart for my bookclub and although the book had a lot of sadness, as the main character processed the grief of losing her mother, I couldn’t help but be highly intrigued by the constant Korean food references that threaded throughout the book. Since H Mart grocery story is prominently featured in the title, I was also inspired to experience it for myself!
Although I have tried a few Korean dishes (I do love bibimbap) I must admit, I’m pretty naive to all the dishes and foods I would find. Near me there are actually 3 H Marts relatively close by, so on a free Saturday, I decided to head to the closest one and do some shopping and sketch journaling on a Creative Wanderlust Adventure!
The parking lot was busy as cars filed in and out, clearly I had chosen a popular time to visit. I entered into the store at the produce section. At first glance, it seemed pretty much identical to the many produce sections of the stores I frequent. But beyond the fresh fruits and vegetables, things did become quickly apparent that this was anything like my weekly store run. Once I started wandering through the aisles, I was enamored with the brightly colored packaging, the Korean, Chinese and Japanese names (H Mart is a Korean grocery chain, but carries many brands from all over Asia) and of course, all the happy faces – animals and some human characters that graced the packages. A shrimp chef, a dancing frog, a proud cow, a mischievous chicken… I couldn’t stop drawing!
Beyond the product aisles, I found a huge selection of frozen and fresh seafood… so fresh that there was a fish tank you could choose your meal from. I wandered the large nook filled floor to ceiling with varieties of kimchi, then browsed the frozen section and selected something to bring home and try- Duk Boki, or spicy Korean rice and fish cakes. A bit worried about how spicy it may be, I made sure to stay clear of the package that said, “Crazy Spicy!”
After sketching and wandering for an hour, I headed to the check out, with a basket full of varied sauces to try, colorful quail eggs to sketch in more detail, my Duk Boki and several pages filled of my travel journal! It was the perfect adventure to get a little introduction to delicious Korean foods as well as take the edge off of my constant wanderlust. Surrounded by the sound of languages I do not know, foreign brands and foods that were new to me, I felt a surge of creative energy from my afternoon adventure!
What book are you reading? Is there references to a place, a style of food, or an adventure you could try? I’d love to hear!