As Korea’s largest seafood market, Busan’s Jagalchi Market is worth a visit, whether for a meal or simply to observe the fishmongers! Cleaning and peddling the fish caught that day are worth exploring. Even the streets surrounding the market are memorable, lined with vendors busily at work, vying for the attention of customers.
The first time I went to Busan’s iconic Jagalchi Fish Market, I didn’t eat. Instead, I walked in awe past the vendors lining the street outside and then down the huge warehouse aisles lined with vendors selling all kinds of colors and shapes of of marine life in the stalls, some on whole ice, some spread out, some dry, some in tanks, still Very lively.
I was careful not to step in any puddles on the grey tile floor as I watched closely. What’s that? Wow! And, that? And, what’s that? With sensory overload, my brain tried in vain to make connections. Was that raised red and yellow bulb a plant or an animal? It looked like prickly pears. At one point, I stopped, with curious wonder. What was it? What is it? What’s that?
I try not to look too long, or worse, gawk at the beige, hot-dog-shaped tank occupants, who are each other Stacked on top of each other like a bunch of fat fingers. Or, really, penises. I suck my eyes back into their sockets and hold back a smile.
I was living in Japan at the time, and learned a lesson anew: what was normal for me was not normal for everyone, and vice versa! . Lessons I thought I had learned as a child, but had to relearn my own biases. And, being a fickle person, I’ll likely learn again in the future.
For example, while hiking with a group of elderly Japanese women, our conversation turned to the toilet. Growing up in the United States, I was not used to opening the bathroom door to find a porcelain hole in the floor, and I ended up getting held up several times until I perfectly Squatting and aiming. When asked if they preferred squatting or toilets, their friends agreed: the former in public, the latter in private.
“Really?” I asked in surprise.
“Who would want their ass touching a stranger’s ass somewhere?” A man replied.
Touched it. I must confess that I have since started using the squatters more frequently.
So, as offensive as it is, what makes me think these finger creatures aren’t completely sacred?
However, unlike the spicy, fried and sweet snacks sold by vendors at nearby street markets, most of these hodgepodge of marine life are not Tempting, and not just because of their peculiar appearance. I was about five months pregnant and intimidated by eating soft cheeses, let alone fellow Ursulines, especially since I was not at all Knowing how they will cook, or even not at all.
Pregnancy aside, the traveler in me is still curious. I’ve read that you can simply approach a vendor, point to the creature you crave, and have it ready for you on the spot. That’s the beauty of the market.
I, in my hesitation to even smell familiar, had no idea what to point to. Was it the big red eye, or the flattened flounder? Can I finish that big crab, which is much bigger than my face, by myself?
It didn’t help that my senses were already aroused by my pregnancy, but it was hard to take in everything at once. The air was filled with the pungent smell of seawater and the saltiness of fresh fish, and the shouting, haggling, and noise of the upstairs diner’s The sound of a crowd having fun. Oh, to be up there, sitting on the floor with a group of friends, clinking glasses in between bites of food. It wasn’t just the fish I craved, it was the raucous laughter, the whole experience.
Alone, though, the prospect of actually shopping was still daunting, even if every aproned and gloved The vendors all smiled and displayed their similar favors, beckoning me to take a closer look. I knew I would freeze if I tried to haggle, so I smiled and exited the market, facing the vendor-lined street After taking a few quick photos, I left, questioning my shyness as soon as I got on the bus. As the other passengers boarded the bus, I looked out the window at the crowded market street and instantly regretted missing this opportunity to experience a local tradition.
To my surprise, I would not only return to Busan, but I would move there three years later. The market has become one of my family’s favorite places to take visitors to experience one of the highest concentrations of culture – energetic, hardworking, and fun-loving. Every time we take a friend or family member there, we have the opportunity to see the market with fresh eyes as they stand still and are busy by the sight of , sounds and smells mingled together in a market that appealed to me.
When I first went there, I was hungry for a fresh fish experience and I wanted to talk to the fishmongers and learn more about them and their The work: where they fish, when they fish, how they fish; whether it’s a family business, whether it’s been in the family for generations. As a traveler, I’m drawn to each new location, yes, but as a writer I’m also drawn to the people, those who Beating hearts have transformed the land and built the history, culture and feel of each place. When we moved to Korea, I had hoped to learn the language, but struggled to remember how to say hello or ask for a one, two, three pint, thank you.
Fortunately, each time a vendor accosted us in English and then patiently helped us choose the right amount of fish, crab or shellfish to bring! Feeding our group and suggesting how to eat: raw, baked or steamed. On our first visit, we didn’t know what to do after choosing a hearty meal, so the staff graciously led us upstairs to the The eating area, which I missed on my first visit.
Like the market on the ground floor, the dining area was equally crowded and separated into different eateries, many of which had their own gurgling and A fish tank full of life. Couples and groups sit on low tables on the floor or in rows on tables with plastic chairs covered with plastic tablecloths .
Over time, we realized that each vendor was connected to an upstairs eatery and we tried a different one each time we came. My eyes were always glued to the tables we passed, trying to remember the dishes so that when we sat down, we could take them Match the dishes on the picture menu handed to us by the waiter. A traditional black bowl, set over a flame and filled with bubbling soup; a large round plate with thinly sliced sashimi on top; a small dish of banchan The side dishes, such as pickles and pickled fish, add color and flavor.
I tried several times to avoid the menu and just point to our neighbor’s feast and got confused, so I gave up asking, I didn’t want to Being charged for accidentally ordering a raw mystery creature, that way I would feel compelled to eat it so as not to offend anyone, especially if I was pregnant with the After the second child.
New dishes still found their way to our table through waiter’s suggestions, such as one waiter who picked up our crab skeleton and asked. “Bibimbap?” We knew we liked mixed rice, so we agreed, and have since continued this Traditionally, at the end of each meal, we stuff ourselves with salted rice cooked in crab gravy. Sometimes, we get a free gift, like raw octopus, served with tentacles still squirming on the plate, an experience I’ve never had before! Blame the baby bloom in my belly, but Tom grew to love the experience – salty sesame oil with suckers attached to his tongue! The strange sensations on it combine before you chew and swallow.
While we got to know the new food, it was nothing more than pointing and ordering and then waving goodbye and saying ” Kamsahamnida”, we never had the opportunity to interact with the busy vendors and waiters.
However, in the company of our toddler, language is not necessary. Speechless communication is a child’s superpower. All Emmy had to do was approach the fish tank and the fishmonger would approach her with a smile, an active conversation in Korean, or a simple “hello.” . More than once, the fishmonger took a small octopus out of the tank and placed it in Emmy’s tiny hand. I watched anxiously, wondering how she would react, until her eyes looked into mine and swelled with delight, long and Skinny tentacles squirmed in her hands and slipped from her fingers. Then the peddler, Tom and I would share a laugh, and Emmy would play with the creature in her hands, giggling too.
Once, to my amazement, a vendor reached into the tank, pulled out the beige finger-like creature, and placed it on my toddler’s ready Good hands. Tom and I exchanged glances, widened our eyes, and couldn’t help but laugh at the same time at the fact that our three-year-old was holding a The image of the mini-penis look-alike was amusing and disturbing.
Then the man gently took her hand and squeezed it, squirting an arc of water on the floor. Emmy laughed and stared. The man tilted his belly back and laughed, and we joined in, and she waved her new, floppy little friend, and cheerfully went to The ground is sprayed with water.